A multi-scale analysis and classification of the hydrogeomorphological characteristics of Irish headwater streams

Cox, Edward J.; Gurnell, Angela M.; Bowes, Michael J. ORCID:; Bruen, Michael; Hogan, Sinéad C.; O’Sullivan, John J.; Kelly-Quinn, Mary. 2023 A multi-scale analysis and classification of the hydrogeomorphological characteristics of Irish headwater streams. Hydrobiologia, 850 (15). 3391-3418.

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We present a spatially hierarchical, hydrogeomorphological stream classification, based on data collected in Ireland and reflecting our hypothesis that local (site scale) stream physical habitat characteristics are related to the physical properties of the extended reach within which a site is located, and, in turn, to the physical character of the catchment. Using a top-down approach, data on catchment, reach and site-scale stream physical properties were collected for 42 Irish headwater streams. The summary catchment properties (rock type, topography, soil type and hydrology) were extracted from secondary sources. Reach-scale physical controls on stream hydrogeomorphology (planform, gradient, degree of confinement, bed material) were assembled mainly from secondary sources. Site-scale information on the stream physical habitat mosaic was collected by field survey. Data analysis identified six new ‘River Types’ for steep mountain streams that extend a pre-existing classification system developed for English streams and rivers. Five of the new types with sufficient replication were associated with ‘indicator’ habitats and characteristic habitat assemblages. The classification method is simple to apply and so it is suitable for operational use. We believe that it is applicable beyond Ireland and England to other areas of northern and western Europe with similar climate−landscape conditions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0018-8158
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Publisher link (see Related URLs) provides a read-only full-text copy of the published paper.
Additional Keywords: hierarchical, small streams, stream classification, catchment types, stream types, physical habitat assemblages, river condition assessment
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Data and Information
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Date made live: 01 Feb 2024 10:04 +0 (UTC)

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