Abstract

Hillslopes constitute the majority of Earth’s land surface area and dominate the supply of sediment to rivers. Hillslope sediment transport is commonly modeled with a rate law that depends on slope and a rate coefficient, D, that is understood to represent the intensity of transport mechanisms. Although many transport mechanisms are related to water and biota, it is unclear whether D varies predictably with climate and life. We compiled previous estimates of D from around the world and also made new estimates for additional sites. The compilation reveals an overall trend in which D increases strongly with increasing moisture among relatively dry sites and less strongly with increasing moisture among relatively wet sites. Vegetation type has a secondary effect on D among drier sites, with D increasing from deserts to grasslands to forests, but not among wetter sites. These trends suggest that the establishment of life in a landscape substantially accelerates soil creep, whereas differences in biological communities among sites with abundant moisture have a relatively small effect on creep.

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