Current issue: 53(3)
Under compilation: 53(4)
In the last decades, architectural analysis has been used to understand and to model plant development. These studies have led us to reconsider the problem of measuring plants while taking into account their topological structure at several scales of detail. A computational platform, called AMAPmod, was created to work on such plant representations. This paper outlines the general methodology used in AMAPmod to represent plant topological structures and to explore these special types of databases. Plant structures are first encoded in order to build corresponding formal representations. Then, a dedicated language, AML, enables the user to extract various types of information from the plant databases and provides appropriate analysing tools.
A method for the measurement of the three-dimensional (3D) architecture of trees was applied to describe two 20-year-old walnut trees, one of them is a timber tree while the other is a fruit tree. The method works at the shoot level and simultaneously describes the plant topology, the plant geometry and the shoot morphology. The method uses a 3D digitiser (3SPACE® FASTRAK®, Polhemus Inc.) associated with software DiplAmi designed for digitiser control and data acquisition management. Plant images may be reconstructed from the data set by using the ray tracing software POV-Ray. Visual comparison between photographs of the walnut trees and images synthesised from digitising was satisfactory. Distribution of basal shoot diameter, as well as leaf area and fruit distributions for both the timber and the fruit tree were non-uniformly distributed in the crown volume. Gradients were likely to be related to the light distribution within the tree. This is in agreement with previous experimental results on several tree species, and also with the predictions of tree architecture models based on light-vegetation interactions.