Applying Ecogeomorphology to Restoration and Management of Native Riparian Ecosystems

EPA Grant Number: FP917436
Title: Applying Ecogeomorphology to Restoration and Management of Native Riparian Ecosystems
Investigators: Bywater-Reyes, Sharon V
Institution: The University of Montana - Missoula
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Environmental and Water Science


This research aims to: (1) characterize vegetation-hydrogeomorphic interactions at a variety of scales; and (2) explore management scenarios that would encourage the recruitment of native species via a calibrated hydraulic model that incorporates the effect of vegetation and sediment routing.


The study will use the Bill Williams River, AZ, as the field site for this research. Topographic change resulting from a flood release from Alamo Dam will be measured with traditional surveying techniques as well as cutting-edge, ground-based LiDAR technology. This will allow for scaling of point densities, depending upon the spatial scale being measured. Scour and deposition will be quantified and related to vegetation characteristics to understand how vegetation affects sediment transport and erosional processes. Recruitment of pioneer vegetation will be monitored and the interactions with sediment transport measured.

Expected Results:

It is expected to find differential sediment transport patterns between species (native cottonwood vs. invasive salt cedar) and size classes of woody trees, and at various spatial scales. Salt cedar is expected to trap greater volumes of sediment compared to cottonwood and may prevent it from scouring. Thresholds are expected to be found above which an increase in size of plants does not have a significant effect on sediment transport processes. Additionally, different processes are expected to be significant at different spatial scales.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection
This research will provide scientists and managers with important knowledge concerning the effects of woody riparian tree species on sediment routing, having implications for controlling nonpoint source sediment pollution. Additionally, this research will inform restoration efforts of native riparian areas by revealing the conditions under which native riparian plants can recruit and persist, preserving the important ecosystem services that riparian areas provide.

Supplemental Keywords:

ecogeomorphology, ecosystem services, nonpoint source pollution

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final