By using a model of a meandering stream, scientists have shown two ingredients that are very important for stream health: vegetation to reinforce banks and prevent erosion, and sand to build point bars and block off cut-off channels and chutes. This knowledge will help stream restoration efforts in the future.
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Image Courtesy of Zina Deretsky/National Science Foundation
Living, Meandering River Constructed
News story originally written on September 28, 2009
Scientists have used a model of a river to learn more about how healthy rivers are formed. Healthy rivers have sections that are shallow, and other sections that are deep. These different types of water contain habitats that allow a lot of different plants and animals to live in the river.
The model of the river contains gravel (which is like sand), fine sediment, plants, and water. Scientists have learned that in order to be a healthy river, it needs to have lots of plants on the edges of the river to protect it from erosion. Healthy rivers also need enough sand to keep smaller streams from branching off of the main river.
Scientists hope they can use what they learn from this model to restore other rivers back to being healthy.
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