GM6.1

Process geomorphology and ecosystems - disturbance regimes and interactions
Convener: Markus Stoffel  | Co-Conveners: Jens Turowski , Annett Wolf , Stephen Rice 
Oral Programme
 / Mon, 03 May, 13:30–15:00  / Room 21
Poster Programme
 / Attendance Mon, 03 May, 17:30–19:00  / Hall A
Process geomorphology and ecosystems interact at different scales and with different feedback loops. For example, plants influence soil stabilization and soil production with their root systems, while root distribution depends in part on soil movement and frost heave. Similarly, at larger scales, geomorphic processes like floods and landslides act as disturbance agents for ecosystems, while biologically driven landscape changes have the potential to impact process geomorphology. Anticipated climatic changes during the coming decades will directly influence ecosystems and geomorphic processes, but also the interaction between ecosystems and geomorphology. Despite broad acknowledgment of the links between geomorphic and ecological processes, there are significant gaps of knowledge in the quantification and understanding of these interactions.

Some geomorphic processes are perceived as disturbances from an ecosystem point of view. Importantly, the impact of disturbances - such as landslides, rockslides, snow avalanches, floods, forest fires or wind storms - on ecosystems depends on the characteristics of the specific disturbance. As a consequence, ecosystems carry the signature of disturbances and by studying these ecosystems, it is possible to infer frequency and intensity of past disturbance events. Equally, ecosystem characteristics, such as rooting depth or the density of beaver dams can influence the frequency, magnitude and related impacts of disturbance events like landslides and river floods. Quantifying and understanding the influence of ecosystems on geomorphic processes may improve our ability to estimate future disturbance impacts and provide guidelines for managing landscapes to prevent severe geomorphological events.

This session seeks to aid interdisciplinary exchange and interaction by exploring these issues and the fundamental ecological and geomorphological process interactions - at any scale - that underpin them. We welcome contributions from aquatic and terrestrial ecology and therefore from all branches of geomorphology (hillslope, fluvial etc.) In particular, the session aims to:

(1) present empirical and modeling studies that quantify the importance of geomorphological disturbance for aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems;

(2) present empirical and modeling studies that quantify the ecosystem influences on geomorphological disturbance regimes;

(3) highlight how ecological data (such as tree rings, pollen, water chemistry or bio tracers) can be used to infer past disturbance history and to understand impacts of ecosystems on geomorphic processes;

(4) present empirical and modeling studies that elucidate the interactions and potential feedback loops between process geomorphology and ecosystems at any scale.