My master's thesis is focused on understanding how deciduous tree sway dynamics change following the thinning of a forested edge. Very little information is currently available regarding deciduous tree sway and the stability of deciduous trees during high wind storms. A better understanding of deciduous tree stability during storms could have long-term social, ecological, and economic benefits as tree failure during storms results in damage to property and utility infrastructure.
Over the past two years, I have monitored the movement of 13 edge trees along an existing utility corridor using tilt meters and wind monitors to record the wind conditions. I collected one year of tree sway data without any intervention and then one year immediately following a major thinning of the forest edge. The purpose of this experiment is to measure how thinning the forest edge and increasing wind exposure to the remaining trees impacts tree sway dynamics over time. Trees respond to increases in mechanical loading by reallocating growth to areas experiencing the greatest stress, overtime increasing their resistance against failure during high winds. This phenomenon, termed thigmomorphogenesis, has been observed in young trees, but has never been documented in mature deciduous tree species under real wind loading.
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