What’s in a name? A naming convention for geomorphic river types using the River Styles Framework

Kirstie A. Fryirs*, Gary J. Brierley

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)
    362 Downloads (Pure)


    Meaningful iteration between place-based knowledge of rivers and generalised, theoretically-framed understandings is a significant challenge in river science and management. How can we communicate knowledge of the inherent complexity of river systems in light of managerial quests for simple, easy-to-apply frameworks that can be used by a wide range of practitioners, such that we can meaningfully transfer experiences in river science and management from one situation to another? Identification, definition, classification and naming are vital parts of this process. In a sense, a name is like a ‘brand’, for which a consistency of product is expected. The River Styles Framework is a flexible, open-ended approach to river science and management. The Framework applies a set of hierarchical principles to differentiate reaches, interpret their process-based behaviour and examine interactions between patterns of reaches at the catchment scale. Here we outline an evolution and tightening of the Framework to better communicate how to identify and name types of river at the reach scale. Like the River Styles Framework itself, the naming convention applies hierarchical procedures, starting at the valley setting scale, and incorporating analyses of river planform, channel and floodplain landforms (geomorphic units) and bed material texture. Using a series of examples from around the world, we show how this naming convention can be applied to name river reaches and can be adapted to particular purposes in a consistent, readily communicable manner. We outline various challenges that are faced in managing the use of such a naming convention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0201909
    Pages (from-to)1-23
    Number of pages23
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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