Vegetation cover influence on the morphology and migration patterns of river mouths

Michal Lichter, Micha Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study focuses on the effects of vegetation cover changes on the dynamic morphology of seven southeastern Mediterranean river mouths. The methodology used comprised monitoring and mapping by GIS techniques, with data derived from historic aerial photographs, which were applied in the investigation of the morphological spatial and temporal migration patterns of the mouths, and subsequent analysis of the vegetation cover changes influencing them. Vegetation cover adjacent to river mouths influences river mouth morphology through five primary mechanisms: a) bank vegetation; b) dune advancement toward the shoreline; c) changes in the beach's micro-topography; as well as d) long-term continuous channel migration through permanent vegetation patches; and e) channel switching through permanent vegetation patches. The five mechanisms are part of a system of interactions between channel water flow and fluvial processes; coastal sediment transport and coastal processes; and the evolution of plant communities. In the interplay between these factors they all affect and are being affected by one another. In many river mouths artificial channel diversion is often needed due to uncontrolled channel migration. It is demonstrated that vegetation cover can serve as a mean of "soft" channel regulation. Therefore, a better understanding of the five influencing mechanisms may aid in controlling and managing river mouth migration patterns. The study contributes to the knowledge about bank vegetation as a tool of "soft" channel regulation and thus can contribute to the improvement of coastal zone management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-333
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by the Eshkol PhD grant of the Israeli Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports. The study also received special support from the Eva Daniels Fund run by the Jewish National Fund. We would like to thank Dr. Dov Zviely for reading the PhD thesis upon which this paper is based and his helpful comments and Prof. Jacob Maoz for his linguistic editing of this paper.


  • Aerial photograph
  • Coastal morphology
  • Estuaries
  • GIS
  • Israel
  • Riparian vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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