The Tagliamento River: A model ecosystem of European importance


In NE Italy is a remarkable floodplain river that retains the dynamic nature and morphological complexity that must have characterized most Alpine rivers in the pristine stage. This river system, the Fiume Tagliamento, constitutes an invaluable resource not only as a reference site for the Alps, but as a model ecosystem for large European rivers. The Tagliamento has a number of attributes that have not been given due consideration in river ecology: (i) an immense corridor of more than 150 km2 that connects the land and the sea and two biomes, the Alps and the Mediterranean; (ii) unconstrained floodplain segments characterised by a dynamic mosaic of aquatic/terrestrial habitats; and (iii) a large number of vegetated islands (ca. 700). We believe it is critical to understand the functional roles of these endangered attributes in order to effectively engage in river conservation and management programmes. The Tagliamento River in Italy offers the rare opportunity to investigate natural processes at a scale that can be studied almost nowhere else in Europe.

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Correspondence to Klement Tockner.

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Received: 21 May 2003; revised manuscript accepted: 21 July 2003

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Tockner, K., Ward, J.V., Arscott, D.B. et al. The Tagliamento River: A model ecosystem of European importance. Aquat. Sci. 65, 239–253 (2003).

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  • Floodplain
  • restoration
  • conservation
  • landscape
  • biodiversity
  • flow pulse
  • flood pulse
  • reference ecosystem