The part-time research programme, supervised by Dr Roland Ennos of the University of Manchester, will investigate the internal and external structure of tree forks and assess their weaknesses.
"This project is a unique opportunity to link arboricultural expertise to recent advances in tree biomechanics, with obvious benefits to both institutions from the collaboration," said Dr Ennos.
It is hoped the outcomes of the research will inform tree surgery, tree inspection and tree nursery practices, both in the UK and abroad.
Lead researcher and Myerscough College lecturer Duncan Slater said: "This is a very exciting opportunity to find out hard facts about why some tree forks are very weak and split easily, while others are strong and safe.
"The strength of forks is a very important factor in tree hazard management, and one that has not been fully explored scientifically, so there are great opportunities for new findings. Planting and pruning trees so that they only develop strong forks will result in much more sustainable tree populations being grown."
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