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A review of plant‐flow interactions on salt marshes: the importance of vegetation structure and plant mechanical characteristics

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Observations of plant‐flow interactions on salt marshes have revealed a highly complex process dominated by the tightly coupled effects of plant characteristics and hydrodynamic conditions. This paper highlights the importance of vegetation structures such as plant density and height, as well as their spatial variability and mechanical properties including flexibility, upon energy dissipation and flow modification. Many field, laboratory and modeling studies which attempt to predict flow dissipation or improve our understanding of plant‐flow interactions use simplified structural measures of salt marsh vegetation or artificial representations. These simplifications neglect important plant and canopy elements and are unlikely to be truly representative of their natural counterparts. Such approaches limit our understanding of plant‐flow interactions and potentially compromise the predictive accuracy and application of numerical flow models. It is important therefore that improved techniques to measure vegetation structure are adopted in order to better define the key relationships between measurable plant characteristics and drag‐relevant plant properties. WIREs Water 2015, 2:669–681. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1103 This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Scour around an isolated Salicornia sp. plant.
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Spartina anglica canopy during late growing season consisting of a single stem and many blade shaped leaves.
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