Wave-induced hydraulic forces on submerged aquatic plants in shallow lakes

J. Schutten, J. Dainty, A.J. Davy

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67 Citations (Scopus)


• Background and Aims Hydraulic pulling forces arising from wave action are likely to limit the presence of freshwater macrophytes in shallow lakes, particularly those with soft sediments. The aim of this study was to develop and test experimentally simple models, based on linear wave theory for deep water, to predict such forces on individual shoots.

• Methods Models were derived theoretically from the action of the vertical component of the orbital velocity of the waves on shoot size. Alternative shoot‐size descriptors (plan‐form area or dry mass) and alternative distributions of the shoot material along its length (cylinder or inverted cone) were examined. Models were tested experimentally in a flume that generated sinusoidal waves which lasted 1 s and were up to 0·2 m high. Hydraulic pulling forces were measured on plastic replicas of Elodea sp. and on six species of real plants with varying morphology (Ceratophyllum demersum, Chara intermedia, Elodea canadensis, Myriophyllum spicatum, Potamogeton natans and Potamogeton obtusifolius).

• Key Results Measurements on the plastic replicas confirmed predicted relationships between force and wave phase, wave height and plant submergence depth. Predicted and measured forces were linearly related over all combinations of wave height and submergence depth. Measured forces on real plants were linearly related to theoretically derived predictors of the hydraulic forces (integrals of the products of the vertical orbital velocity raised to the power 1·5 and shoot size).

• Conclusions The general applicability of the simplified wave equations used was confirmed. Overall, dry mass and plan‐form area performed similarly well as shoot‐size descriptors, as did the conical or cylindrical models of shoot distribution. The utility of the modelling approach in predicting hydraulic pulling forces from relatively simple plant and environmental measurements was validated over a wide range of forces, plant sizes and species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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