We want to know what force the individual plants ‘feel’ when they are rocked by the backward and forward motion of the waves. In order to measure this, we attach specimen of real marsh plants to small metal holders and then mounting the holders onto an instrument that measures the force used to push it in one direction. The trickiest part is the attachment of the plant stems to the holders, and after trying everything from cable ties to rubber, straws to glue, we have managed it. The information we have recovered so far is fascinating and clearly shows the increase and decrease of force on the stems with the motion of the waves. We also attached ‘mimics’ of real plants, strips of plastic of varying thicknesses and thus varying flexibility, so that we can compare the force experienced by these artificial plants with the force experienced by the real ones – something that will help future researchers to study the effect of plants without having to harvest real specimen.
If you squint, you can see some transparent mimics to either side of the plants.