The effect of wind loading on seedlings of En-glish oak (Quercus robur L.) was investigated. Instead of using a traditional wind tunnel, an innovative ventilation system was designed. This device was set up in the field and composed of a rotating arm supporting an electrical fan, which emitted an air current similar to that of wind loading. Oaks were sown from seed in a circle around the device. A block of control plants was situated nearby, and was not subjected to artificial wind loading. After 7 months, 16plants from each treatment were excavated, and root archi-tecture and morphological characteristics measured using a 3D digitiser. The resulting geometrical and topological data were then analysed using AMAPmod software. Re-sults showed that total lateral root number and length in wind stressed plants were over two times greater than that in control trees. However, total lateral root volume did not differ significantly between treatments. In comparing lat-eral root characters between the two populations, it was found that mean root length, diameter and volume were similar between the two treatments. In trees subjected to wind loading, an accentuated asymmetry of root distribu-tion and mean root length was found between the windward and leeward sides of the root system, with windward roots being significantly more numerous and longer than leeward roots. However, no differences were found when the two sectors perpendicular to the wind direction were compared. Mean tap root length was significantly higher in control samples compared to wind stressed plants, whilst mean di-ameter was greater in the latter. Wind loading appears to result in increased growth of lateral roots at the expense of the tap root. Development of the lateral root system may therefore ensure better anchorage of young trees subjected to wind loading under certain conditions.
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