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Water 2018, 10(11), 1613;

Issues of Meander Development: Land Degradation or Ecological Value? The Example of the Sajó River, Hungary

Department of Physical Geography and Geoinformatics, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
Department of Landscape Protection and Environmental Geography, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human Biology, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
Department of Geography, Instituto de Geomorfología y Suelos, Málaga University, Campus of Teatinos, 29071 Málaga, Spain
Department of Physical Geography, Trier University, 54286 Trier, Germany
Geographical Institute, Research Center for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budaörsi út 45, H-1112 Budapest, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 September 2018 / Revised: 31 October 2018 / Accepted: 6 November 2018 / Published: 9 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impacts of Landscape Change on Water Resources)
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The extensive destruction of arable lands by the process of lateral bank erosion is a major issue for the alluvial meandering type of rivers all around the world. Nowadays, land managers, stakeholders, and scientists are discussing how this process affects the surrounding landscapes. Usually, due to a land mismanagement of agroforestry activities or urbanization plans, river regulations are designed to reduce anthropogenic impacts such as bank erosion, but many of these regulations resulted in a degradation of habitat diversity. Regardless, there is a lack of information about the possible positive effects of meandering from the ecological point of view. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to investigate a 2.12 km long meandering sub-reach of Sajó River, Hungary, in order to evaluate whether the process of meander development can be evaluated as a land degradation processes or whether it can enhance ecological conservation and sustainability. To achieve this goal, an archive of aerial imagery and UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)-surveys was used to provide a consistent database for a landscape metrics-based analysis to reveal changes in landscape ecological dynamics. Moreover, an ornithological survey was also carried out to assess the composition and diversity of the avifauna. The forest cover was developed in a remarkable pattern, finding a linear relationship between its rate and channel sinuosity. An increase in forest areas did not enhance the rate of landscape diversity since only its distribution became more compact. Eroding riverbanks provided important nesting sites for colonies of protected and regionally declining migratory bird species such as the sand martin. We revealed that almost 70 years were enough to gain a new habitat system along the river as the linear channel formed to a meandering and more natural state. View Full-Text
Keywords: bank erosion; landscape metrics; diversity; Sajó River; UAV bank erosion; landscape metrics; diversity; Sajó River; UAV

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Bertalan, L.; Novák, T.J.; Németh, Z.; Rodrigo-Comino, J.; Kertész, Á.; Szabó, S. Issues of Meander Development: Land Degradation or Ecological Value? The Example of the Sajó River, Hungary. Water 2018, 10, 1613.

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