Vegetation and Geomorphic Connectivity in Mountain Fluvial Systems

Piotr Cienciala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Rivers are complex biophysical systems, constantly adjusting to a suite of changing governing conditions, including vegetation cover within their basins. This review seeks to: (i) highlight the crucial role that vegetation’s influence on the efficiency of clastic material fluxes (geomorphic connectivity) plays in defining mountain fluvial landscape’s behavior; and (ii) identify key challenges which hinder progress in the understanding of this subject. To this end, a selective literature review is carried out to illustrate the pervasiveness of the plants’ effects on geomorphic fluxes within channel networks (longitudinal connectivity), as well as between channels and the broader landscape (lateral connectivity). Taken together, the reviewed evidence lends support to the thesis that vegetation-connectivity linkages play a central role in regulating geomorphic behavior of mountain fluvial systems. The manuscript is concluded by a brief discussion of the need for the integration of mechanistic research into the local feedbacks between plants and sediment fluxes with basin-scale research that considers emergent phenomena.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number593
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Biogeomorphology
  • Fluvial system
  • Geomorphic connectivity
  • Mountain rivers
  • Riparian vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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