, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 703–712 | Cite as

Analyzing key factors of roots and soil contributing to tree anchorage of Pinus species

  • Ming Yang
  • Pauline DéfossezEmail author
  • Frédéric Danjon
  • Thierry Fourcaud
Original Article


Key message

Root anchorage strength and stiffness can be represented by small number of root and soil parameters. Root morphology represents the majority of these factors.


Tree anchorage is a primary function for plant survival which may reach its limit under extreme conditions such as windstorms. To better understand the processes and influential factors underlying tree anchorage, we analyzed the mechanical effects of root morphology and the material properties of roots and soil on the tree-overturning process with the recently developed finite element model RootAnchor. The root system was represented by a simplified 3D root pattern derived from an ensemble average of seven measured root systems of 19-year-old Pinus pinaster grown in sandy spodosol. Soil properties were measured by direct shear tests. Taguchi orthogonal arrays were used to examine the sensitivity of the geometric and material factors of roots and soil to tree anchorage. Tree anchorage was characterized by anchorage strength TMc and anchorage stiffness K0. Using a small number of numerical experiments, the sensitivity analysis prioritized only two key factors contributing to tree anchorage among the 34 factors considered. The results showed root morphological traits that played a dominant role in the material properties of roots and soil in tree anchorage. Taproot depth, the dimensions of the Zone of Rapid Taper (ZRT) and basal diameter of the windward shallow roots were the key factors contributing to TMc (variations > 8%). The dimensions of the taproot, root and soil stiffness, and the basal diameter of the leeward shallow roots were the most active factors for K0 (variations > 10%). These results provide insight into simplified tree anchorage expressions for the prediction of wind-induced uprooting.


Tree anchorage Sensitivity analysis Taguchi orthogonal arrays Finite element method Pinus pinaster Root architecture 



This work was funded by the Aquitaine Region with the FAST-A project, and by the French National Research Agency (ANR) with the TWIST (ANR-13-JS06-0006) and FOR-WIND (ANR-12-AGRO-0007) projects. It was also carried out in the framework of the Cluster of Excellence COTE (ANR-10-LABX-45). We thank Dr. Mark Irvine for his technical aid for the ABAQUS computations. AMAP (Botany and Computational Plant Architecture) is a joint research unit which associates CIRAD (UMR51), CNRS (UMR5120), INRA (UMR931), IRD (2M123), and Montpellier 2 University (UM27);

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ISPA, INRA, Bordeaux Sciences AgroVillenave d’OrnonFrance
  2. 2.BIOGECO, INRA, Université de BordeauxCestasFrance
  3. 3.AMAP, CIRAD, CNRS, INRA, IRD, Université de MontpellierMontpellier Cedex 5France

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