Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ecological interfaces between land and flowing water: themes and trends in riparian research and management.

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of past, present and future themes for research and management of riparian zones, often relating to papers within this Wetlands Special Feature. Riparian research expanded in the United States around 1980 with themes that recognized (1) damage from excessive livestock, or (2) damage from river damming and diversion, and (3) the beneficial capacity of riparian buffers to intercept and assimilate nutrients and other water contaminants. Research expanded globally in the 1990s, with themes including (4) plant life history requirements and (5) reliance on fluvial geomorphic dynamics that enable riparian rejuvenation. Resource managers recognized that riparian areas provide (6) rich wildlife habitats (7) along with valued ecosystem services, (8) which encouraged conservation and restoration initiatives, (9) including environmental flow regimes. Floodplains are (10) vulnerable to invasive plants and management has included biocontrol such as for Tamarix in the American Southwest. Into the twenty-first century, (11) climate change is advancing, and riparian ecosystems may be especially impacted due to the compound challenges from increasing water demand and declining summer flows. As an emerging opportunity, (12) while reservoirs submerge floodplain vegetation, reservoir deltas may support compensatory riparian wetlands. (13) Studies increasingly utilize remote sensing tools including satellite imagery, LiDAR and unmanned aircraft systems, and (14) the coordination of large data sets invites digital ecology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Since riparian zones are centres for human activities, (15) there are opportunities for citizen science, social media and internet applications, which will increasingly democratize riparian research and management.