Great Northern LCC invests in understanding importance of gravel-bed river ecosystems to landscapes

North Fork of Flathead River, Montana. Photo courtesy: Becky Petrashek

Gravel-bed river floodplains are critically important to sustaining regional biodiversity and landscape-scale ecological integrity. The North Fork of the Flathead, flowing from British Columbia to Montana, is one example in the Great Northern geography. Photo courtesy: Becky Petrashek


Based on the premise that gravel-bed river floodplains are overlooked as ecological regulators of mountain landscapes, a team of scientists set out to synthesize decades of research, from hydrological processes to grizzly bear movements, in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Their resulting interdisciplinary review, published in the journal Science Advances, describes the importance of these ecosystems in sustaining regional biodiversity and landscape-scale ecological integrity.

The review emphasizes that management efforts should aim at improving and maintaining connectivity throughout the length and width of gravel-bed rivers, including associated floodplains, to achieve the greatest conservation benefits for a wide range of plants and animals.  

Read about the Great Northern LCC research that helped support this work:

Also see the Great Northern LCC Ecological Connectivity Atlas. The atlas contains connectivity data that can be used to inform landscape-scale resource management decisions and activities.