The Role of Riparian Zones in Steep Mountain Watersheds
The riparian zone encompasses the strip of land between the stream channel and the hillslope and is sometimes referred to as the valley floor, near-stream zone (Cirmo and McDonnell 1997), floodplain (Bates et al. 2000), or buffer zone (Lowrance et al. 1985). Riparian zones have been differentiated from upslope zones by unique hydrology, topography, vegetation, and soils (Hill 1996). Characteristics such as anoxic zones, gleyed soils, distinct soil color, high organic content, breaks in slope, and near-surface water tables often distinguish riparian zones from adjacent hillslopes. Because of their location, riparian zones have significant potential to regulate the movement of water and elements in surface and subsurface runoff that flows from upslope areas to the stream (Hill 1996).
KeywordsHillslope Hydrograph separation Hydrology Riparian Runoff Watershed
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