Riparian refers to vegetation along streams, wetlands, waterholes and estuaries.
Riparian vegetation is important, not only as a different habitat type in itself, but also for aquatic ecosystems. Leaf litter provides an important food source for many aquatic animals, riparian vegetation provides shade, which controls water temperatures and other water quality processes. The physical habitat provided by tree roots and snags is important to many aquatic animals, and riparian vegetation acts as a filter to trap nutrients and other contaminants before they enter streams.
Riparian ecosystems support plants and animals that do not occur anywhere else in the landscape. They also have a greater biodiversity than many surrounding ecosystems. During dry periods, animals from surrounding woodlands move into riparian ecosystems for refuge.
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