Influence of river meandering dynamics on riparian vegetation pattern formation

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Abstract

[1] The present work investigates how the dynamics of meandering rivers influence the formation of riparian vegetation patterns. To this aim, a model coupling river dynamics and riparian vegetation evolution was developed. Meandering dynamics were simulated with a fluid dynamical model using shallow water equations on an erodible bed. The riparian vegetation model takes into account some of the main actions caused by the river, i.e., water table oscillations, floods, and sedimentation. A logistic law and an exponential decay were used to model the increase and decrease in the biomass, respectively, consequent to river migration. The numerical simulation by the model highlights how river dynamics are able to induce typical vegetation patterns that are similar to some real riparian landscapes (some examples are shown). The results also show the role of (1) the relevant river-vegetation interactions and (2) the temporal scales of vegetation evolution and river migration.

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