The slope ofthe landscape and the rock characteristics of the catchment define the physical habitat characteristics of the stream-wetland system. Riparian wetlands provide habitats with different hydraulic and substrate conditions than the stream channel. Although flooding in streams is generally shorter, less predictable and 'spikier' than in large rivers, there is a large number ofexchange processes between the main channel and the riparian zone during these flood events. Major flood events, albeit rare, act as 'reset mechanism' in the floodplain that rejuvenates the sediment structure and the successional stage of the vegetation. Between these rare events, riparian wetlands act as sinks for fine particles and organic sediments that were washed out of the stream channel, the terrestrial zone of the catchment, or derive from an autochthonous biomass production.
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