MODELING THE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN RIVER MORPHODYNAMICS AND RIPARIAN VEGETATION

Authors


Abstract

The study of river-riparian vegetation interactions is an important and intriguing research field in geophysics. Vegetation is an active element of the ecological dynamics of a floodplain which interacts with the fluvial processes and affects the flow field, sediment transport, and the morphology of the river. In turn, the river provides water, sediments, nutrients, and seeds to the nearby riparian vegetation, depending on the hydrological, hydraulic, and geomorphological characteristic of the stream. In the past, the study of this complex theme was approached in two different ways. On the one hand, the subject was faced from a mainly qualitative point of view by ecologists and biogeographers. Riparian vegetation dynamics and its spatial patterns have been described and demonstrated in detail, and the key role of several fluvial processes has been shown, but no mathematical models have been proposed. On the other hand, the quantitative approach to fluvial processes, which is typical of engineers, has led to the development of several morphodynamic models. However, the biological aspect has usually been neglected, and vegetation has only been considered as a static element. In recent years, different scientific communities (ranging from ecologists to biogeographers and from geomorphologists to hydrologists and fluvial engineers) have begun to collaborate and have proposed both semiquantitative and quantitative models of river-vegetation interconnections. These models demonstrate the importance of linking fluvial morphodynamics and riparian vegetation dynamics to understand the key processes that regulate a riparian environment in order to foresee the impact of anthropogenic actions and to carefully manage and rehabilitate riparian areas. In the first part of this work, we review the main interactions between rivers and riparian vegetation, and their possible modeling. In the second part, we discuss the semiquantitative and quantitative models which have been proposed to date, considering both multi- and single-thread rivers.

Ancillary