Biogeomorphic effects of woody vegetation on bedrock streams


The dynamic interactions between fluvial processes and vegetation vary in different environments and are uncertain in bedrock settings. Bedrock streams are much less studied than alluvial in all aspects, and in many respects act in qualitatively different ways. This research seeks to fill this lacuna by studying bedrock streams from a biogeomorphic perspective. It aims to identify the impacts of woody vegetation that may be common to fluvial systems and rocky hillslopes in general, or that may be unique to bedrock channels. A review of the existing literature on biogeomorphology – mostly fluvial and rocky hillslope environments – was carried out, and field examples of biogeomorphic impacts (BGIs) associated with fluvial systems of various bedrock environments were then examined to complement the review. Results indicate that bedrock streams exhibit both shared and highly concentrated BGIs in relation to alluvial streams and rocky hillslopes. Bedrock streams display a bioprotective geomorphic form – root banks (when the root itself forms the stream bank) – which is distinctive, but not exclusive to this setting. On the other hand, shared biogeomorphic impacts with alluvial streams include sediment and wood trapping, and bar and island development and stabilization (i.e. bioconstruction/modification and protection). Shared impacts with rocky hillslopes also include bioprotection, as well as displacement of bedrock due to root and trunk growth, and bedrock mining caused by tree uprooting (i.e. bioweathering and erosion). Two BGI triangles were developed to graphically display these relationships. Finally, this paper concludes that bedrock streams exhibit some BGIs that also occur in either alluvial channels or on rocky hillslopes. Therefore, no BGIs were identified that are absolutely unique to bedrock fluvial environments.

Document Type





alluvial streams, bedrock streams, biogeomorphic impacts, Biogeomorphology, rocky hillslopes

Publication Date


Journal Title

Progress in Physical Geography