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River Landscape

River Landscape courses of a river parts of a river

Rivers are flowing bodies of waters. There are rivers on every continent (except Antarctica). A river basically, has three parts. We call them the courses of a river. This lesson on river landscape (also called riverscape) explains to you about these courses or stages of a river and their wildlife.


Where do rivers begin?

Most rivers begin in hills or mountains.
river landscape

Where do rivers end?

Rivers flow down to the sea and end there. Many plant and animals live in or near rivers.


River Landscape

River Landscape courses of a river parts of a river

Uses of rivers

  • Rivers are an important part of the Earth’s water cycle
  • They carry huge quantities of water from the land to the sea
  • They provide a home, drinking water, and/or a hunting ground for many organisms
  • Furthermore, rivers provide drinking water, irrigation water, transportation, hydro-electrical power, drainage, food, and recreation opportunities

In this lesson we are going to learn about the courses of a river and their wild life.

courses of a river


Courses of a river and River Wildlife


Upper Course


The upper course of a river is often in steep, mountain areas. This section of a river is cold, clear and fast-flowing. It has a very steep slope. When the river flows down through the upper course the river channel becomes narrow. This creates vertical erosion forming a V-shaped valley. Waterfalls are also, usually formed at this stage.


River Landscape v-shaped valleys

Rivers with steep slopes form valleys with steep walls and a bottom. Valleys formed by shallower slopes may be broader and gentler.


Upper course wildlife

  • moss covered boulders (A large smooth mass of rock detached from its place of origin)
  • Salmon and sea trout may well lay their eggs in these headwaters
  • Highland birds like peregrine falcons and dippers can be found nearby
  • Trout sometimes known as the Troutbeck
  • Many insects such as stonefly and mayfly species
  • otters and grey wagtails
  • Insect larvae live in the water and adults fly around the area


Middle Course


Rivers often meander (follow a winding path) along their middle course. It is less steep and has a moderate flow of water. The bottom becomes a mixture of silt and gravel. We call this deposition. At this stage small meanders or bends and small flood plains can be formed. Oxbow lakes may also be formed.

Middle course wildlife

  • Trout can be found in the Middle Course of the river
  • A variety of birds including the kingfisher live here
  • Salmon and minnows eat water shrimps, crayfish and insects
  • Kingfishers and herons eat salmon and minnows
  • Mammals like otters are carnivorous predators and eating mainly frogs and fish


Lower Course


The Lower Course is where the river flows gently because of its gentle slope, and also it looks like a lake habitat. This winding lowland parts of a river contain muddy, slightly warmer water, which flows more slowly. Plants grow in the bed of the river and at its edges. It also contains a deposition. Large meanders, large flood plains as well as oxbow lakes can be formed at this stage.


courses of a river meanders

This river has meanders with large winding bends


Lower course wildlife

  • Dragonflies
  • Many other species of insects
  • Pike
  • Perch
  • Roach
  • Bream
  • Swans
  • Moorhen
  • Water voles


Other stages of a river


a) Estuary

b) Meanders

c) Tributaries

d) Waterfall

e) Oxbow Lake

f) Flood plain

g) Marsh

h) Delta


Hope you’ve enjoyed learning about river landscape!