The Use of Evolutionary Trajectories to Guide ‘Moving Targets’ in the Management of River Futures

G. J. Brierley*, K. A. Fryirs

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    84 Citations (Scopus)


    River histories provide important guidance with which to inform river management. Evolutionary trajectories and appraisals of system responses to changing flux conditions and disturbance events can be used to determine the range of potential future states and associated behavioural regimes, assessing the likelihood that that these states will be attained over a given timeframe. In these analyses, natural or historical reference reaches may not provide a realistic basis to set target conditions for management actions, as what has gone before does not necessarily provide a complete and reliable picture of prospective future conditions. This paper outlines the use of a conceptual tool, the river evolution diagram, as a geomorphic platform to assess river history and the potential range of river futures for any given system. Evolutionary adjustments of a sand bed river in southeastern Australia are used to demonstrate the application of this approach. Applying adaptive management principles, ‘moving targets’ for river management are framed in relation to the range of likely future states and trajectories of adjustment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)823-835
    Number of pages13
    JournalRiver Research and Applications
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


    • evolution
    • fluvial geomorphology
    • geomorphic condition
    • monitoring
    • range of variability
    • river management
    • shifting baseline
    • stream power


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Use of Evolutionary Trajectories to Guide ‘Moving Targets’ in the Management of River Futures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this