Wind damage and the mechanical strength of trees. Why are trees in Borneo so tall?


Academic Profile

The effect of wind on trees is an understudied topic in rain forests, and it is likely to have important implications for the carbon cycle. Wind damage represents vast amounts of biomass turnover as well as acting as a key limitation to tree height. Using terrestrial LiDAR data Toby is modelling how trees respond to wind and how likely they are to snap or fall over. Previous studies have suggested that tree architectural traits may shape this response, and for the first time we have the tools to study this efficiently across thousands of trees.

Toby's background is in physics and he uses finite element and modal analysis approaches to model the interaction between trees and wind. He is currently conducting fieldwork in Oxford and in Borneo that will test his models and allow him to ask important ecological questions such as - how high a wind speed would it take to severely damage a given rainforest plot?

If you are interested in this project please get in touch with Toby at

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