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  1. Abstract

    Feedbacks between geomorphic processes and riparian vegetation in river systems are an important control on fluvial morphodynamics and on vegetation composition and distribution. Invasion by nonnative riparian species alters these feedbacks and drives management and restoration along many rivers, highlighting a need for ecogeomorphic models to assist with understanding feedbacks between plants and fluvial processes, and with restoration planning. In this study, we coupled a network‐scale sediment model (Sediment Routing and Floodplain Exchange; SeRFE) that simulates bank erosion and sediment transport in a spatially explicit manner with a recruitment potential analysis for a species of riparian vegetation (Arundo donax) that has invaded river systems and wetlands in Mediterranean climates worldwide. We used the resulting ecogeomorphic framework to understand both network‐scale sediment balances and the spread and recruitment ofA. donaxin the Santa Clara River watershed of Southern California. In the coupled model, we simulated a 1‐year time period during which a 5‐year recurrence interval flood occurred in the mainstem Santa Clara River. Outputs identify key areas acting as sources ofA. donaxrhizomes, which are subsequently transported by flood flows and deposited in reaches downstream. These results were validated in three study reaches, where we assessed postflood geomorphic and vegetation changes. The analysis demonstrates how a coupled model approach is able to highlight basin‐scale ecogeomorphic dynamics in a manner that is useful for restoration planning and prioritization and can be adapted to analogous ecogeomorphic questions in other watersheds.

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  2. Abstract

    Sediment regimes, i.e., the processes that recruit, transport, and store sediment, create the physical habitats that underpin river‐floodplain ecosystems. Natural and human‐induced disturbances that alter sediment regimes can have cascading effects on river and floodplain morphology, ecosystems, and a river's ability to provide ecosystem services, yet prediction of the response of sediment dynamics to disturbance is challenging. We developed the Sediment Routing and Floodplain Exchange (SeRFE) model, which is a network‐based, spatially explicit framework for modeling sediment recruitment to and subsequent transport through drainage networks. SeRFE additionally tracks the spatially and temporally variable balance between sediment supply and transport capacity. Simulations using SeRFE can account for various types of watershed disturbance and for channel‐floodplain sediment exchange. SeRFE is simple, adaptable, and can be run with widely available geospatial data and limited field data. The model is driven by real or user‐generated hydrographs, allowing the user to assess the combined effects of disturbance, channel‐floodplain interactions and particular flow scenarios on the propagation of disturbances throughout a drainage network, and the resulting impacts to reaches of interest. We tested the model in the Santa Clara River basin, Southern California, in subbasins affected by large dams and wildfire. Model results highlight the importance of hydrologic conditions on postwildfire sediment yield and illustrate the spatial extent of dam‐induced sediment deficit during a flood. SeRFE can provide contextual information on reach‐scale sediment balance conditions, sensitivity to altered sediment regimes, and potential for morphologic change for managers and practitioners working in disturbed watersheds.

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  3. Abstract. During spring, daily stream flow and groundwater dynamics in forested subalpine catchmentsare to a large extent controlled by hydrological processes thatrespond to the day–night energy cycle. Diurnal snowmelt and transpirationevents combine to induce pressure variations in the soil water storage thatare propagated to the stream. In headwater catchments these pressurevariations can account for a significant amount of the total pressure in thesystem and control the magnitude, duration, and timing of stream inflowpulses at daily scales, especially in low-flow systems. Changes in theradiative balance at the top of the snowpack can alter the diurnal hydrologicdynamics of the hillslope–stream system, with potential ecological andmanagement consequences.

    We present a detailed hourly dataset of atmospheric, hillslope, andstreamflow measurements collected during one melt season from a semi-alpineheadwater catchment in western Montana, US. We use this dataset toinvestigate the timing, pattern, and linkages among snowmelt-dominatedhydrologic processes and assess the role of the snowpack, transpiration, andhillslopes in mediating daily movements of water from the top of the snowpackto local stream systems. We found that the amount of snowpack cold contentaccumulated during the night, which must be overcome every morning beforesnowmelt resumes, delayed water recharge inputs by up to 3h early in themelt season. These delays were further exacerbated by multi-day storms (coldfronts), which resulted in significant depletions in the soil and streamstorages. We also found that both diurnal snowmelt and transpiration signalsare present in the diurnal soil and stream storage fluctuations, although theindividual contributions of these processes are difficult to discern. Ouranalysis showed that the hydrologic response of the snow–hillslope–streamsystem is highly sensitive to atmospheric drivers at hourly scales and thatvariations in atmospheric energy inputs or other stresses are quicklytransmitted and alter the intensity, duration, and timing of snowmelt pulsesand soil water extractions by vegetation, which ultimately drive variationsin soil and stream water pressures.

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