• bars;
  • gravel-bed;
  • lateral accretion;
  • mountain streams;
  • plant succession;
  • sedimentation;
  • riparian trees;
  • vertical accretion


In many large alluvial rivers, trees often recruit and survive along laterally accreted sediments on bars. This produces a gradient of tree ages and composition with distance from the active channel. However, in low-order, gravel-bed mountain streams, such as the stream investigated in this study, it is suggested that vertical accretion results in sediment deposition patterns on bars that are often highly patchy. Consequently, tree species and ages are also heterogeneously distributed, rather than having distinct linear or arcuate banding patterns with distance from the channel. In addition, overall age patterns of trees on these bars follow the distribution of floods, with numerous young trees and few older trees. Recruitment is fairly continuous on these bars and is not correlated with high water years, suggesting that even flows close to bankfull levels are capable of transporting fine sediment to the bars on which trees establish. This pattern of sediment deposition/erosion and the resulting tree recruitment and survival seem to be a result of valley confinement and the lack of lateral accretion in these smaller, mountainous channels. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.