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Keywords:

  • channel incision;
  • floodplains;
  • fluvial landforms;
  • riparian zone;
  • vegetation

Riparian vegetation distribution patterns and diversity relative to various fluvial geomorphic channel patterns, landforms, and processes are described and interpreted for selected rivers of Tuscany, Central Italy; with emphasis on channel evolution following human impacts. Field surveys were conducted along thirteen gauged reaches for species presence, fluvial landforms, and the type and amount of channel/riparian zone change. Inundation frequency of different geomorphic surfaces was determined, and vegetation data were analyzed using BDA (binary discriminate analysis) and DCA (detrended correspondence analysis) and related to hydrogeomorphology. Multivariate analyses revealed distinct quantitative vegetation patterns relative to six major fluvial geomorphic surfaces. DCA of the vegetation data also showed distinct associations of plants to processes of adjustment that are related to stage of channel evolution, and clearly separated plants along disturbance/landform/soil moisture gradients. Species richness increases from the channel bed to the terrace and on heterogeneous riparian areas, whereas species richness decreases from moderate to intense incision and from low to intense narrowing.