River Styles and stream power analysis reveal the diversity of fluvial morphology in a Philippine tropical catchment

Pamela Louise Tolentino, John Edward Perez, Esmael Guardian, Richard Boothroyd, Trevor Hoey, Richard Williams, Kirstie Fryirs, Gary Brierley, Carlos Primo David

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Characterisation of hydromorphological attributes is crucial for efective river management. Such information is often overlooked in tropical regions such as the Philippines where river management strategies mainly focus on issues around water quality and quantity. We address this knowledge gap using the River Styles Framework as a template to identify the diversity of river morphodynamics. We identify eight distinct River Styles (river types) in the Bislak catchment (586 km2) in the Philippines, showing considerable geomorphic diversity within a relatively small catchment area. Three River Styles in a Confned valley setting occupy 57% of the catchment area, another three in a partly confned valley setting occupy 37%, and two in the remaining 6% are found in a laterally unconfned valley setting. Five characteristic downstream patterns of River Styles were identifed across the catchment. We observe that variation in channel slope for a given catchment area (i.e., total stream power) is insufcient to diferentiate between river types. Hence, topographic analyses should be complemented with broader framed, catchment-specifc approaches to river characterisation. The outputs and understandings from the geomorphic analysis of rivers undertaken in this study can support river management applications by explicitly incorporating understandings of river diversity and dynamics. This has the potential to reshape how river management is undertaken, to shift from reactive, engineering-based approaches that dominate in the Philippines, to more sustainable, ecosystem-based approaches to management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages18
JournalGeoscience Letters
Issue number1
Early online date2 Feb 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Feb 2022


  • Catchment
  • Fluvial geomorphology
  • River Styles
  • River management
  • Topographic controls
  • Tropical river


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