Hydrologic Connectivity of Landscapes and Implications for Forest Restoration

  • R. Chelsea Nagy
  • B. Graeme Lockaby
Part of the World Forests book series (WFSE, volume 15)


Streams interact with the landscape through flooding events, erosion, and deposition processes and provide valuable subsidies to riparian zones. Meanwhile, the cumulative effects of disturbances and land use practices within a watershed affect water resources downstream. Forests have long been acclaimed for their rain-bringing capacity and ability to purify water resources. However, less well recognized is the linkage between a forest and increased evapotranspiration and thus lower water yield. Often a critical step to successfully restoring streams and riparian zones is to recreate the hydrological connectivity including a site-specific, realistic flooding regime. Integration of local citizens with land managers and conservationists greatly enhances the potential for long-term success of restoration activities.


Forest Cover Particulate Organic Carbon Riparian Zone Riparian Forest Water Yield 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



organic matter


dissolved organic carbon


particulate organic carbon


net primary productivity


aboveground net primary productivity


Cache River National Wildlife Refuge


nephelometric turbidity units






nitrate plus nitrite


total nitrogen


organic carbon



Funding for this research was provided by Auburn University’s Center for Forest Sustainability.


  1. Alabyan AM, Chalov RS (1998) Types of river channel patterns and their natural controls. Earth Surf Process Landf 23:467–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allan JD (2004) Landscapes and riverscapes: the influence of land use on stream ecosystems. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 35:257–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen AE, Santana-Michel SJ, Arrona CO et al (2010) Integrating ecological and ethnobotanical priorities into riparian restoration. Ecol Restor 28(3):377–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amoros C, Bornette G (2002) Connectivity and biocomplexity in waterbodies of riverine floodplains. Freshw Biol 477:61–776Google Scholar
  5. Anderson CJ, Mitsch WJ (2008) Influence of flood connectivity on bottomland hardwood forest productivity in central Ohio. Ohio J Sci 108(2):2–8Google Scholar
  6. Andréassian V (2004) Waters and forests: from historical controversy to scientific debate. J Hydrol 291:1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Austin BJ, Strauss EA (2011) Nitrification and denitrification response to varying periods of desiccation and inundation in a western Kansas stream. Hydrobiology 658:183–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baldwin DS, Mitchell AM (2000) The effects of drying and re-flooding on the sediment and soil nutrient dynamics of lowland river-floodplain systems: a synthesis. Regul Rivers Res Manag 16:457–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bayley PB (1995) Understanding large river-floodplain ecosystems. BioScience 45(3):153–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Binkley D, Brown TC (1993) Management impacts on water quality of forests and rangelands. General Technical Report RM-239. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, COGoogle Scholar
  11. Bolstad PV, Swank WT (1997) Cumulative impacts of land use on water quality in a southern Appalachian watershed. J Am Water Resour 33:519–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bosch JM, Hewlett JD (1982) A review of catchment experiments to determine the effect of vegetation changes on water yield and evapotranspiration. J Hydrol 55:3–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brinson M, Verhoeven J (1999) Riparian forests. In: Hunter ML (ed) Maintaining biodiversity in forest ecosystems. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  14. Brooks KN, Ffolliott PF, Gregersen HM et al (2003) Hydrology and the management of watersheds, 3rd edn. Blackwell Publishing, AmesGoogle Scholar
  15. Bruijnzeel LA (2004) Hydrological functions of tropical forests: not seeing the soil for the trees? Agric Ecosyst Environ 104:185–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Calder I, Amezaga J, Aylward B et al (2004) Forests and water policies. The need to reconcile public and science perspectives. Geol Acta 2(2):157–166Google Scholar
  17. Chazdon RL (2008) Beyond deforestation: restoring forests and ecosystem services on degraded lands. Science 320:1458–1460PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chesapeake Bay Program (2009) Bay restoration. Accessed 13 July 2009
  19. Clawson RG, Lockaby BG, Rummer B (2001) Changes in production and nutrient cycling across a wetness gradient within a floodplain forest. Ecosystem 4:126–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Conner WH, Day JW Jr (1976) Productivity and composition of a baldcypress-water tupelo site and a bottomland hardwood site in a Louisiana swamp. Am J Bot 63:1354–1364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. de la Crétaz AL, Barten PK (2007) Land use effects on streamflow and water quality in the Northeastern United States. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  22. DellaSala DA, Martin A, Spivak R et al (2003) A citizen’s call for ecological forest restoration: forest restoration principles and criteria. Ecol Restor 21(1):14–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Douglass JE, Swank WT (1972) Streamflow modification through management of eastern forests. USDA Forest Service Research Paper: SE-94, Asheville, NCGoogle Scholar
  24. Downs PW, Kondolf GM (2002) Post-project appraisals in adaptive management of river channel restoration. Environ Manag 29(4):477–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Farley KA, Jobbágy EG, Jackson RB (2005) Effects of afforestation on water yield: a global synthesis with implications for policy. Glob Change Biol 11:1565–1576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fisher DS, Steiner JL, Endale DM et al (2000) The relationship of land use practices to surface water quality in the Upper Oconee watershed of Georgia. For Ecol Manag 128:39–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ford CR, Laseter SH, Swank WT et al (2011) Can forest management be used to sustain water-based ecosystem services in the face of climate change? Ecol Appl 21(6):2049–2067PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Forest Guild (2009) Forest Guild success stories. . Accessed 7 July 2009
  29. Gergel SE, Dixon MD, Turner MG (2002) Consequences of human-altered floods: levees, floods, and floodplain forests along the Wisconsin River. Ecol Appl 12(6):1755–1770CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Glazebrook HS, Robertson AI (1999) The effect of flooding and flood timing on leaf litter breakdown rates and nutrient dynamics in a river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) forest. Austr J Ecol 24:625–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Groffman PM, Blain DJ, Band LE et al (2003) Down by the riverside: urban riparian ecology. Front Ecol Environ 1(6):315–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Groves T, Hondorp C (2007) Low impact development: concepts and considerations.,guid,6a215927-af04-4263-8484-21eb4f3810be.aspx. Accessed 15 July 2009
  33. Hibbert AR (1967) Forest treatment effects on water yield. In: Sopper WE, Hull HW (eds) Forest hydrology: proceedings of a National Science Foundation advanced science. Pergamon Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Holl KD, Crone EE, Schultz CB (2003) Landscape restoration: moving from generalities to methodologies. BioScience 53(5):491–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hughes FMR (1997) Floodplain biogeomorphology. Prog Phys Geogr 21(4):501–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hughes FMR, Adams WM, Muller E et al (2001) The importance of different scale processes for the restoration of floodplain woodlands. Regul Rivers Res Manag 17:325–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hughes FMR, Colston A, Mountford JO (2005) Restoring riparian ecosystems: the challenge of accommodating variability and designing restoration trajectories. Ecol Soc 10(1):12Google Scholar
  38. Hupp CR, Pierce AR, Noe GB (2009) Floodplain geomorphic processes and environmental impacts of human alteration along coastal plain river. Wetlands 29(2):413–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jackson CR, Pringle CM (2010) Hydrologic connectivity in intensively developed landscapes. BioScience 60:37–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jackson RB, Jobbágy EG, Avissar R et al (2005) Trading water for carbon with biological carbon sequestration. Science 310:1944–1947PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Junk WJ, Bayley PB, Sparks RE (1989) The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems. In: Dodge DP (ed) Proceedings of the international large river symposium. Canadian Special Publications of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  42. Kondolf GM, Boulton AJ, O’Daniel S et al (2006) Process-based ecological river restoration: visualizing three-dimensional connectivity and dynamic vectors to discover lost linkages. Ecol Soc 11(2):5Google Scholar
  43. Kuuluvainen T, Aapala K, Ahlroth P et al (2002) Principles of ecological restoration of boreal forested ecosystems: Finland as an example. Silva Fennica 36(1):409–422Google Scholar
  44. Lamb D, Erskine PD, Parrotta JA (2005) Restoration of degraded tropical forest landscapes. Science 310(5754):1628–1632PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lambert CP, Walling DE (1987) Floodplain sedimentation: a preliminary investigation of contemporary deposition within the lower reaches of the River Culm, Devon, UK. Geogr Ann 69A(3–4):393–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lockaby BG (2009) Floodplain ecosystems of the Southeast: linkages between forests and people. Wetl 29(2):407–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lockaby BG, Murphy AL, Somers GL (1996) Hydroperiod influences on nutrient dynamics in decomposing litter of a floodplain forest. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60(4):1267–1272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lockaby BG, Conner WH, Mitchell J (2008) Floodplains. In: Jørgensen SE, Faith BD (eds) Ecosystems. Vol 2 of Encyclopedia of ecology. Elsevier, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  49. Maginnis S, Jackson W (2008) Restoring forest landscapes. Accessed 13 July 2009
  50. Megonigal JP, Conner WH, Kroeger S et al (1997) Aboveground production in southeastern floodplain forests: a test of the subsidy-stress hypothesis. Ecology 78(2):370–384Google Scholar
  51. Meitzen KM (2009) Lateral channel migration effects on riparian forest structure and composition, Congaree River, South Carolina, USA. Wetl 29(2):465–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mengistu T, Teketay D, Hulten H et al (2005) The role of enclosures in the recovery of woody vegetation in degraded dryland hillsides of central and northern Ethiopia. J Arid Environ 60:259–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mitsch W, Gosselink J (2007) Wetlands, 4th edn. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  54. Moon KH, Park DK (2004) The role and activities of NGOs of reforestation in the northeast Asian region. For Ecol Manag 201:75–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morozova GS (2005) A review of Holocene avulsions of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and possible effects on the evolution of civilizations in lower Mesopotamia. Geoarchaeology 20(4):401–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Murray AB, Paola C (2003) Modelling the effect of vegetation on channel pattern in bedload rivers. Earth Surf Process Landf 28(2):131–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nagy RC, Lockaby BG, Helms B et al (2011) Water resources and land use and cover in a humid region: the southeastern United States. J Environ Qual 40:867–878PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Naiman RJ, Décamps H (1997) The ecology of interfaces: riparian zones. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 28:621–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Naiman RJ, Décamps H, McClain ME (2005) Riparia: ecology, conservation, and management of streamside communities. Elsevier Academic Press, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  60. Nanson GC, Croke JC (1992) A genetic classification of floodplains. Geomorphology 4:459–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Neckles HA, Neill C (1994) Hydrologic control of litter decomposition in seasonally flooded prairie marshes. Hydrobiology 286(3):155–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Newson M (1994) Hydrology and the river environment. Oxford University Press Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  63. Nilsson C, Svedmark M (2002) Basic principles and ecological consequences of changing water regimes: riparian plant communities. Environ Manag 30(4):468–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Odum EP, Finn JT, Franz EH (1979) Perturbation theory and the subsidy-stress gradient. BioScience 29(6):349–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Odum WE, Odum EP, Odum HT (1995) Nature’s pulsing paradigm. Estuaries 18(4):547–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Olivera F, DeFee BB (2007) Urbanization and its effect on runoff in the Whiteoak Bayou watershed, Texas. J Am Water Resour Assoc 43:170–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Paul MJ, Meyer JL (2001) Streams in the urban landscape. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 32:333–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pizarro R, Araya S, Jordán C et al (2006) The effects of changes in vegetative cover on river flows in the Purapel river basin of central Chile. J Hydrol 327:249–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Poff NL, Allan JD, Bain MB et al (1997) The natural flow regime: a paradigm for river conservation and restoration. BioScience 47(11):769–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rayburg S, Thoms M, Lenon E (2006) Unraveling the physical template of a terminal flood-plain-wetland sediment storage system. Sediment dynamics and the hydromorphology of fluvial systems (Proceedings of a symposium held in Dundee, UK, July 2006). IAHS Publication 306Google Scholar
  71. Reid LM (1993) Research and cumulative watershed effects. General Technical Report PSW-GTR-141-WWW. Albany, CA. Pacific Southwest Research Station, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest ServiceGoogle Scholar
  72. Richards K, Brasington J, Hughes F (2002) Geomorphic dynamics of floodplains: ecological implications and a potential modeling strategy. Freshw Biol 47:559–579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Richardson CJ, Pahl JW (2005) The Duke Forest stormwater improvement and wetlands restoration project: final report to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program. Accessed 20 June 2009
  74. Robinson M, Cognard-Plancq A-L, Cosandey C et al (2003) Studies of the impact of forests on peak flows and baseflows: a European perspective. For Ecol Manag 186:85–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rodrigues RR, Lima RAF, Gandolfi S et al (2009) On the restoration of high diversity forests: 30 years of experience in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Biol Conserv 142:1242–1251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Rood SB, Heinz-Milne S (1989) Abrupt downstream forest decline following river damming in southern Alberta. Can J Bot 67:1744–1749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Rose S, Peters NE (2001) Effects of urbanization on streamflow in the Atlanta area (Georgia, USA): a comparative approach. Hydrol Process 15:1441–1457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Salo J, Kalliola R, Häkkinen I et al (1986) River dynamics and the diversity of the Amazon lowland forest. Nature 322:254–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Schlesinger WH (1991) Biogeochemistry: an analysis of global change. Academic Press Inc., San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  80. Schneider RL, Sharitz RR (1988) Hydrochory and regeneration in a bald cypress-water tupelo swamp forest. Ecology 69(4):1055–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Schoonover JE, Lockaby BG, Helms B (2006) Impacts of land cover on stream hydrology in the west Georgia piedmont, USA. J Environ Qual 35:2123–2131PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Scott DF, Prinsloo FW (2008) Longer-term effects of pine and eucalypt plantations on streamflow. Water Resour Res 44:W00A08. doi: 10.1029/2007WR006781 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sharif M, Balbach H (2008) Water quality and sediment monitoring program at Ft. Benning, Ga. IPR Presentation to Natural Resources Branch, USCOE. Ft. Benning, GAGoogle Scholar
  84. Sheil D, Murdiyarso D (2009) How forests attract rain: an examination of a new hypothesis. BioScience 59(4):341–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Stanturf JA, Gardiner E, Warren M (2003) Restoring forested wetland ecosystems. In: Holland M, Blood E (eds) Achieving sustainable freshwater systems. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  86. Steiger J, Tabacchi E, Dufour S et al (2005) Hydrogeomorphic processes affecting riparian habitat within alluvial channel-floodplain river systems: a review for the temperate zone. River Res Appl 21:719–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Stromberg JC (2001) Restoration of riparian vegetation in the south-western United States: importance of flow regimes and fluvial dynamism. J Arid Environ 49:17–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Stromberg JC, Patten DT (1990) Riparian vegetation instream flow requirements: a case study from a diverted stream in the eastern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. Environ Manag 14(2):185–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Sun G, Zhou G, Zhang Z et al (2006) Potential water yield reduction due to forestation across China. J Hydrol 328:548–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Thoms MC (2003) Floodplain-river ecosystems: lateral connections and the implications of human interference. Geomorphology 56:335–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Tockner K, Pennetzdorfer D, Reiner N et al (1999) Hydrological connectivity and the exchange of organic matter and nutrients in a dynamic river-floodplain system (Danube, Austria). Freshw Biol 41:521–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Toda Y, Ikeda S, Kumagai K et al (2005) Effects of flood flow on flood plain soil and riparian vegetation in a gravel river. J Hydraulic Eng 131(11):950–960CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Trabucco A, Zomer RJ, Bossio DA et al (2008) Climate change mitigation through afforestation/reforestation: a global analysis of hydrologic impacts with four case studies. Agric Ecosyst Environ 126:81–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Trimble SW (2008) Man-induced soil erosion on the southern Piedmont, 2nd edn. Soil and Water Conservation Society, AnkenyGoogle Scholar
  95. UNEP (2009) Global partnership on forest landscape restoration. Accessed 30 June 2009
  96. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Rhode Island (2011) American recovery and reinvestment act (ARRA) emergency watershed protection program- floodplain easements. Accessed 30 Mar 2012
  97. Walling DE, He Q (1998) The spatial variability of overbank sedimentation on river floodplains. Geomorphology 24:209–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Weston NB, Hollibaugh JT, Joye SB (2009) Population growth away from the coastal zone: thirty years of land use change and nutrient export in the Altamaha River, GA. Sci Total Environ 407(10):3347–3356PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Wolman MG, Leopold LB (1957) River flood plains: some observations on their formation. Physiographic and hydraulic studies of rivers. Geological Survey Professional Paper 282-C, US Geological Survey, Reston, VAGoogle Scholar
  100. Zhang L, Dawes WR, Walker GR (1999) Predicting the effect of vegetation changes on catchment average water balance. Technical Report 99/12, Cooperative Research Center for Catchment Hydrology, CSIRO Land and Water, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  101. Zheng H, Ouyang Z, Xu W et al (2008) Variation of carbon storage by different reforestation types in the hilly red soil region of southern China. For Ecol Manag 255:1113–1121CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

Personalised recommendations