loading page

Refining Geomorphic Heterogeneity as a Framework for Assessing River Corridor Processes and Characteristics
  • +1
  • Daniel Scott,
  • Scott Shahverdian,
  • Rebecca Flitcroft,
  • Ellen Wohl
Daniel Scott
University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Scott Shahverdian
Utah State University
Author Profile
Rebecca Flitcroft
USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
Author Profile
Ellen Wohl
Colorado State University Department of Geosciences
Author Profile


Spatial and temporal heterogeneity, or messiness, is a broadly desirable characteristic of river corridors and an indicator of many of the geomorphic processes that sustain fluvial ecosystems. However, quantifying geomorphic heterogeneity is complicated by a lack of consistent metrics, classification schemas for dividing the river corridor into the patches that form the basis for those metrics, and guidance on interpreting metrics. Drawing from both geomorphic and landscape ecology concepts, we offer ideas and guidance intended to help investigators, from researchers to restoration practitioners, more effectively and reliably use heterogeneity to describe river corridor processes and characteristics. We define geomorphic heterogeneity both spatially and temporally. Spatially, heterogeneity can be described by diversity, or the evenness and richness of geomorphic units, and spatial configuration, or the arrangement and shape of geomorphic units. Temporally, heterogeneity can be described by turnover rate, or the rate of change of geomorphic units. Interpretation of heterogeneity metrics depends integrally on the definition of the geomorphic unit schema on which metrics are based. Contextual information, such as measurements of process space (i.e., how much room a river has to move), disturbance frequency, and geomorphic trajectory, can also be key to interpreting measurements of heterogeneity. Geomorphic applications of heterogeneity require carefully defined geomorphic unit schemas that reflect processes and characteristics of interest, robust metrics of heterogeneity whose meaning is appropriate to the question at hand, and interpretation of those metrics based on the context of expected geomorphic processes and the disturbance regime.
08 Feb 2022Submitted to River Research and Applications
08 Feb 2022Submission Checks Completed
08 Feb 2022Assigned to Editor
08 Feb 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Feb 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
11 Apr 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Major
01 Jun 20221st Revision Received
01 Jun 2022Submission Checks Completed
01 Jun 2022Assigned to Editor
01 Jun 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
01 Jun 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
17 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Accept