Modelling the effect of vegetation on channel pattern in bedload rivers

Brad A. Murray, Chris Paola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


We modify a simple numerical stream-pattern model to examine the effect of sediment stabilization by roots on the channel pattern of bedload rivers. In the model, vegetation enhances bank resistance to erosion, causing the development of a single channel instead of a rapidly changing, multiple channel (braided) pattern. Net aggradation resulting from a high sediment supply, however, causes frequent avulsions that destroy vegetation locally, leading to the development of a multiple-channel pattern. A stability diagram representing multiple model runs predicts whether a river will exhibit single or multiple channels, based on plant-enhanced bank strength, and on the time scale of plant development relative to a time scale for change in unvegetated channels. A second stability diagram predicts the way in which the amplitude and period of a fluctuating imposed sediment load influence whether a single or multiple-channel pattern develops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-143
Number of pages13
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Bank stability
  • Braiding
  • Numerical modelling
  • Single-channel
  • Vegetation


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