Welcome to the Physical Ecology Group at the University of Lincoln
Although organisms obey the same physical laws as inanimate objects the evolutionary implications of these laws are often neglected. Physical factors influence the fitness value of traits and play an important role in the course of evolution. These are the areas of investigation that interest us.
Moguls are bump-like snow mounds featured in freestyle skiing competitions and also frequently found on recreational ski courses. Although competition runs are man-made, most mogul fields form naturally on their own. As skiiers and snowboarders carve S-shaped paths down the slope, their skis and snowboards remove snow during sharp turns and deposit it further downhill. Over a surprisingly short amount of time, these random, uncoordinated actions form bumps large enough that they force skiers and snowboarders to begin turning on the downhill side of the bump. That action continues to carve out snow on the uphill side and deposit it downhill, effectively causing the downhill bumps to migrate uphill, as seen in the timelapse animation below. As more moguls form, their motion organizes them into a checkerboard-pattern that moves in lockstep. Observations show that mogul fields can move about 10 meters uphill over the course of a season. Seemingly, the only way to prevent mogul formation on steep slopes is to regularly groom them back to a flat state! (Image credits: J. Gruber/USA Today; J. Huet; D. Bahr; research credit: D. Bahr et al.)