Session 12: Connectivity in hydrology and sediment dynamics: concepts, measuring, modelling, indices and societal implications

Organisers: Saskia Keesstra, Wageningen University, The Netherlands,

Stefano Crema,  Italian National Research Council, Italy

Marco Cavalli, Italian National Research Council, Italy


Hydro-geomorphic connectivity has emerged as a significant conceptual framework for understanding the transfer of surface water and sediment through landscapes. The concept has had particular success in the field of catchment hydrology and fluvial geomorphology, but has also been employed in, for example, explaining rates of soil erosion by water and sediment export across landscapes in the study of aeolian processes and in fire propagation. However, despite these successes, the concept has resulted mostly in case studies, with little progress made to date on general conceptual models. This may be the result of an evident lack of knowledge and concepts of the different processes involved at different temporal and spatial scales. As a result, experimental work in the lab and in the field has been developed to, furthermore, integrate the effects of static and dynamic features on connectivity. But this needs both more thorough theoretical underpinning and methodological development to measure and model the temporal variation of connectivity.
This session invites contributions from all areas of soil science, hydrology, geomorphology, ecology and geochemistry illustrating or identifying the role of connectivity for ecology and geochemical cycles on a local, regional or global scale. Specific themes we would like to promote are:
– advancement of the theory of connectivity, including sound and unambiguous definitions of connectivity and related parameters,
– methodology development for measuring connectivity in field and laboratory settings, having a special focus on experiments for conceptualizing the different processes involved,
– the development of suitable indices of connectivity,
– to evaluate how human-landscape connectivity relationships determine the resilience/sensitivity/trajectory of managed catchment systems to change
– determining how the concept can be used to enable sustainable land and water management.
We hope to use the session to develop a debate that brings together hydrologists, ecologists, geomorphologists and agronomists to generate the basis for an integrated experimental, theoretical and conceptual framework and to find out how we can develop this knowledge into a piece of useable science.