eCite Digital Repository

Wind distortion in alpine and subantarctic plants is constant among life forms but dose not necessarily reflect prevailing wind direction


Fitzgerald, NB and Kirkpatrick, JB, Wind distortion in alpine and subantarctic plants is constant among life forms but dose not necessarily reflect prevailing wind direction, Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 49, (4) pp. 521-535. ISSN 1523-0430 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Regents of the University of Colorado

DOI: doi:10.1657/AAAR0016-054


Woody plants in windy environments have been used as indicators of prevailing wind direction, because wind can influence plant growth form. We investigated whether non-woody plants also display consistent prevailing wind deformation by observing the direction of asymmetry in growth form of cushion plants, graminoids, and prostrate shrubs growing in highly wind-exposed treeless environments in alpine Tasmania and subantarctic Macquarie Island. Wind distortion of individual plants was inferred from vertical photographs of feldmark and alpine heath vegetation. High correspondence in growth direction between plants of different types suggests a uniform wind influence on plants at the local scale (within <2 m). Dominant wind direction inferred from plant distortion was not consistent with the strongest and most frequent winds. On a relatively dry mountain with shallow soils the plants responded to strong northwest winds in an apparent desiccation response. Elsewhere, they responded to strong southwest winds in an apparent ice abrasion response. We conclude that, in maritime alpine and subantarctic environments, the direction of wind distortion can be measured using any of shrubs, graminoids, or cushion plants, but that this direction is not necessarily a response to the prevailing strongest winds, but rather winds that most damage foliage, the cause of damage varying with environmental context.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:wind distortion, alpine, subantarctic, Tasmania, Macquarie Island, wind direction
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Fitzgerald, NB (Mr Nicholas Fitzgerald)
UTAS Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
ID Code:122418
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2017-11-13
Last Modified:2018-05-22

Repository Staff Only: item control page