There are so many services provided by river ecosystems. Christian Feld, a scientist at the University Duisburg Essen (he introduced himself recently here) summarizes the important role of rivers for human well-being in a short review.
River ecosystems encompass river channels and its floodplains and form a diverse mosaic of habitats with the riparian area at the transition zone between the land and water. During flood events, water and sediment are transported onto the floodplain and provide the nutrients that render river ecosystems highly productive. Conversely, floodplains (and other wetlands) constitute important sinks of river nutrients and sediments and, hence, contribute substantially to a river’s self-purification. They act as a sponge and regulate the water volume, as they cut off flood peaks and release water during low-flow conditions. Floodplains, especially the riparian areas, provide the river channel with carbon (organic matter) which is essential for sustaining riverine plant, animal and micro-organism communities in many regions of Europe.
Looking more precisely…
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