2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference


Computational Modeling of Flight Characteristics for Extant and Fossil Saccate Pollen Grains
Meredith L. Mertz* and George Wang
Dr. Scott Thatcher and Dr. Jeffrey M. Osborn (The College of New Jersey), Faculty Mentors

This study investigates the adaptive significance of saccate pollen through correlation of structural and aerodynamic features. Sacci, or air-filled bladders, are common features of pollen grains of many wind-pollinated plants. Sacci add significant surface area, yet minimal mass, to grains, increasing dispersal distance during wind pollination. A computational model based on structural characters of pollen grains has been developed using electron microscopy, mathematical modeling, and the saccate pollen of three extant conifers. The model calculates terminal settling velocities based on structural characters of the pollen grains. Improved stroboscopic photography techniques, using digital photography and image analysis, have aided in the validation of the model. The mathematical model, based on structural characters, permits flight properties to be measured without physically testing pollen, allowing the flight dynamics of fossil pollen to be investigated.

Keywords: wind pollination, fossil pollen, aerodynamics, computational model, stroboscopic, photography, image analysis

Topic(s):Mathematical Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 54-3
Location: OP 2210
Time: 3:15 pm

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