Plants face the flow in V-formation: a study of plant patch alignment in streams

Loreta Cornacchia (Corresponding Author), Andrew Folkard, Grieg Davis, Robert Grabowski, Johan van de Koppel, Daphne van der Wal, Geraldene Wharton, Sara Puijalon, Tjeerd J. Bouma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Interactions between biological and physical processes, so‐called bio‐physical feedbacks, are important for landscape evolution. While these feedbacks have been quantified for isolated patches of vegetation in aquatic ecosystems, we still lack knowledge of how the location of one patch affects the occurrence of others. To test for patterns in the spatial distribution of vegetation patches in streams, we first measured the distance between Callitriche platycarpa patches using aerial images. Then, we measured the effects of varying patch separation distance on flow velocity, turbulence, and drag on plants in a field manipulation experiment. Lastly, we investigated whether these patterns of patch alignment developed over time following locations of reduced hydrodynamic forces, using 2‐yr field observations of the temporal patch dynamics of Ranunculus penicillatus in a lowland chalk stream. Our results suggest that vegetation patches in streams organize themselves in V‐like shapes to reduce drag forces, creating an optimal configuration that decreases hydrodynamic forces and may therefore encourage patch growth. Downstream patches are more frequently found at the rear and slightly overlapping the upstream patch, in locations that are partially sheltered by the established upstream vegetation while ensuring exposure to incoming flow (important for nutrient availability). Observations of macrophyte patch dynamics over time indicated that neighboring patches tend to grow in a slightly angled line, producing a spatial pattern resembling the V‐formation in migratory birds. These findings point to the general role of bio‐physical interactions in shaping how organisms align themselves spatially to aerodynamic and hydrodynamic flows at a range of scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1102
Number of pages16
JournalLimnology and oceanography
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Fingerprint

hydrodynamics
patch dynamics
hydrodynamic force
vegetation
drag
Ranunculus peltatus
Callitriche
chalk
landscape evolution
aerodynamics
macrophyte
nutrient availability
biological processes
aquatic ecosystem
flow velocity
lowlands
turbulence
spatial distribution
alignment
organisms

Keywords

  • ITC-ISI-JOURNAL-ARTICLE
  • UT-Hybrid-D

Cite this

Cornacchia, L., Folkard, A., Davis, G., Grabowski, R., van de Koppel, J., van der Wal, D., ... Bouma, T. J. (2019). Plants face the flow in V-formation: a study of plant patch alignment in streams. Limnology and oceanography, 64(3), 1087-1102. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11099
Cornacchia, Loreta ; Folkard, Andrew ; Davis, Grieg ; Grabowski, Robert ; van de Koppel, Johan ; van der Wal, Daphne ; Wharton, Geraldene ; Puijalon, Sara ; Bouma, Tjeerd J. / Plants face the flow in V-formation: a study of plant patch alignment in streams. In: Limnology and oceanography. 2019 ; Vol. 64, No. 3. pp. 1087-1102.
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Cornacchia, L, Folkard, A, Davis, G, Grabowski, R, van de Koppel, J, van der Wal, D, Wharton, G, Puijalon, S & Bouma, TJ 2019, 'Plants face the flow in V-formation: a study of plant patch alignment in streams' Limnology and oceanography, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 1087-1102. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11099

Plants face the flow in V-formation: a study of plant patch alignment in streams. / Cornacchia, Loreta (Corresponding Author); Folkard, Andrew; Davis, Grieg; Grabowski, Robert; van de Koppel, Johan; van der Wal, Daphne ; Wharton, Geraldene; Puijalon, Sara; Bouma, Tjeerd J.

In: Limnology and oceanography, Vol. 64, No. 3, 2019, p. 1087-1102.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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T1 - Plants face the flow in V-formation: a study of plant patch alignment in streams

AU - Cornacchia, Loreta

AU - Folkard, Andrew

AU - Davis, Grieg

AU - Grabowski, Robert

AU - van de Koppel, Johan

AU - van der Wal, Daphne

AU - Wharton, Geraldene

AU - Puijalon, Sara

AU - Bouma, Tjeerd J.

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AB - Interactions between biological and physical processes, so‐called bio‐physical feedbacks, are important for landscape evolution. While these feedbacks have been quantified for isolated patches of vegetation in aquatic ecosystems, we still lack knowledge of how the location of one patch affects the occurrence of others. To test for patterns in the spatial distribution of vegetation patches in streams, we first measured the distance between Callitriche platycarpa patches using aerial images. Then, we measured the effects of varying patch separation distance on flow velocity, turbulence, and drag on plants in a field manipulation experiment. Lastly, we investigated whether these patterns of patch alignment developed over time following locations of reduced hydrodynamic forces, using 2‐yr field observations of the temporal patch dynamics of Ranunculus penicillatus in a lowland chalk stream. Our results suggest that vegetation patches in streams organize themselves in V‐like shapes to reduce drag forces, creating an optimal configuration that decreases hydrodynamic forces and may therefore encourage patch growth. Downstream patches are more frequently found at the rear and slightly overlapping the upstream patch, in locations that are partially sheltered by the established upstream vegetation while ensuring exposure to incoming flow (important for nutrient availability). Observations of macrophyte patch dynamics over time indicated that neighboring patches tend to grow in a slightly angled line, producing a spatial pattern resembling the V‐formation in migratory birds. These findings point to the general role of bio‐physical interactions in shaping how organisms align themselves spatially to aerodynamic and hydrodynamic flows at a range of scales.

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