In general Riparian areas occur along drainages, streams and creeks--the corridor of plants and trees that prefer standing freshwater or "wet feet".
These areas are especially important as a souce of water for animals living in the uplands but they also play a number of roles to the well being of the entire watershed. Riparian zones dissipate stream energy. The meandering curves of a river, combined with vegetation and root systems, dissipate stream energy, which results in less soil erosion and a reduction in flood damage. These specialized plants trap sediment, reducing suspended solids to create less turbid water, replenish soils, and build stream banks. Pollutants are filtered from surface runoff which enhances water quality via biofiltration.
The riparian zones also provide wildlife habitat, increase biodiversity, and provide wildlife corridors, enabling aquatic and riparian organisms to move along river systems avoiding isolated communities.
They provide native landscape irrigation by extending seasonal or perennial flows of water. Nutrients from terrestrial vegetation (e.g. plant litter and insect drop) is transferred to aquatic food webs. The vegetation surrounding the stream helps to shade the water, mitigating water temperature changes.
We are currently featuring the following slough life from this habitat: