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Bioinspir Biomim. 2017 Sep 21;12(5):056003. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/aa7ccf.

Hydrodynamics of mangrove-type root models: the effect of porosity, spacing ratio and flexibility.

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Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, United States of America.


Mangrove trees play a prominent role in coastal tropic and subtropical regions, providing habitats for many organisms and protecting shorelines against high energy flows. In particular, the species Rhizophora mangle (red mangrove) exhibits complex cluster roots interacting with different hydrological flow conditions. To better understand the resilience of mangrove trees, we modeled the roots as a collection of cylinders with a circular pattern subject to unidirectional flow. We investigated the effect of porosity and spacing ratio between roots by varying both the diameter of the patch, D, and inset cylinders, d. In addition, we modeled hanging roots of red mangroves as cantilevered rigid cylinders on a hinge. Force and velocity measurements were performed in a water tunnel (Reynolds numbers from 2200 to 11‚ÄČ000). Concurrently, we performed 2D flow visualization using a flowing soap film. We found that the frequency of the vortex shedding increases as the diameter of the small cylinders decreases while the patch diameter is constant, therefore increasing the Strouhal number, [Formula: see text]. By comparing the change of Strouhal numbers with a single solid cylinder, we introduced a new length scale, the effective diameter. The effective diameter of the patch decreases as the porosity increases. In addition, we found that patch drag scales linearly with the patch diameter but decreases linearly as the spacing ratio increases. After a spacing ratio of ([Formula: see text]), the force scales linearly with the free stream velocity, and the mean velocity behind the patch is independent of the Reynolds number and the patch effect disappears. For flexible cylinders, we found that a decrease in stiffness increases both patch drag and the wake deficit behind the patch in a similar fashion as increasing the blockage of the patch. This information has the potential to help in the development of methods to design resilient bio-inspired coastline structures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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