© 2018

Sustaining River Ecosystems and Water Resources


  • Draws on traditionally separate bodies of literature (river ecology, river geomorphology, river engineering) to develop an integrative overview of rivers

  • Emphasizes rivers as ecosystems rather than as simple conduits for water

  • Appeals globally, with specific examples from diverse regions of the world


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environmental Science book series (BRIEFSENVIRONMENTAL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Ellen Wohl
    Pages 1-10
  3. Ellen Wohl
    Pages 11-58
  4. Ellen Wohl
    Pages 59-104
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 143-151

About this book


This work is designed to broaden the scope with which many people regard a river. Rivers are commonly regarded from a very simplistic perspective as conduits for downstream flows of water. In this context, it may be considered acceptable and necessary to engineer the channel to either facilitate such flows (e.g., channelization, levees) or limit flows and store water (e.g., water supply reservoirs, flood control). The book presents the concept of a river as a spatially and temporally complex ecosystem that is likely to be disrupted in unexpected and damaging ways by direct river engineering and by human activities throughout a drainage basin. 

Viewing a river as a complex ecosystem with nonlinear responses to human activities will help to promote a more nuanced and effective approach to managing river ecosystems and to sustaining the water resources that derive from rivers. In this context, water resources refers to ecosystem services including water supply, water quality, flood control, erosion control, and riverine biota (e.g., freshwater fisheries). Chapters in this book draw extensively on existing literature but integrate this literature from a fresh perspective. General principles are expanded upon and illustrated with photographs, line drawings, tables, and brief, site-specific case studies from rivers around the world.


Terrestrial & aquatic environments River ecosystems Water supply reservoirs Flood control Active channel Floodplain/riparian/hyporheic zone Human alterations of rivers River corridors Water & sediment inputs Headwaters, floodplain & subsurface environments/processes Flood pulse model Basin-scale planning River sustainability, restoration and rehabilitation Metrics of river health

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

About the authors

Dr. Ellen Wohl is a Professor of Geology in the Department of Geosciences at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on physical processes and form in rivers and is primarily field based. She has conducted field work in diverse locations from the arctic to the tropics, and has worked on hydraulics, sediment transport, channel geometry, physical-biological interactions in rivers, and human effects on rivers. Much of her current work focuses on instream wood and carbon storage in riverine environments.

Bibliographic information