2017 journal article
Riparian forest structure and stream geomorphic condition: Implications for flood resilience
Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 47(4), 476–487.
Managing riparian corridors for flood resilience requires understanding of linkages between vegetation condition and stream geomorphology. Stream assessment approaches increasingly use channel morphology as an indicator of stream condition, with only cursory examination of riparian vegetation. Our research (i) examines relationships between stream geomorphic condition, as assessed by Rapid Geomorphic Assessment (RGA) scores, and riparian forest structure, and (ii) investigates scale dependencies in the linkages between land cover and stream geomorphology. We sampled vegetation structure and composition and assessed geomorphic condition at 32 stream reaches within the Lake Champlain Basin, USA. RGA scores were modeled as a function of structural attributes using classification and regression trees. Landsat coverages were used to delineate land uses within five nested spatial scales. Generalized linear models (GLM) evaluated relationships between land cover and RGA scores. Standard deviation of basal area partitioned the greatest variability in RGA scores, but dead tree density and basal area (positively) and shrub density (negatively) were also significant predictors. RGA was related to forest and agricultural cover at the two finest scales. Riparian forest structure is highly dynamic in relation to stand development and disturbance history; simple forest cover information does not capture these differences or their influences on stream geomorphic condition.