US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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John Buffington - Research Geomorphologist

John M. Buffington

Research Geomorphologist
322 East Front Street, Suite 401
Boise, ID 83702
Phone: 208-373-4384
Fax: 208-373-4391

Current Research

Effects of geomorphic processes on the spatial and temporal distribution of salmonid habitat, Effects of wildfire on channel morphology and aquatic habitat, Evaluating protocols for determining status and trend of channel morphology and aquatic habitat, Defining geomorphic reference conditions for assessing ecosystem status for implementing US & EU environmental laws, Processes and biological relevance of hyporheic exchange in mountain rivers, Improving bedload transport equations & developing network sediment routing models for mountain basins, Effects of wood debris on channel morphology & aquatic habitat, Stream restoration, Improved understanding of biophysical interactions in mountain watersheds (understanding physical processes over multiple spatial and temporal scales that shape aquatic habitats and population dynamics, and understanding the feedback of biotic activity on physical processes), Tools for conserving and restoring river processes and aquatic habitats, Recommendations for pro-active and re-active response to natural and anthropogenic disturbances (e.g., wildfire, climate change, water diversion/consumption, logging), Tools for assessing and monitoring physical and biological status of mountain basins.

For more information, please see: 

Changes in Channel Morphology Over Human Time Scales - Science Briefing

Climate Change and Spawning Habitat - Science Briefing

Geomorphic Classification of Rivers - Science Briefing

2011 Workshop - Understanding and Adapting To Climate Change in Aquatic Ecosystems at Landscape and River Basin Scales: A decision support workshop for integrating research and management

2008 Bull Trout and Climate Change Symposium

Sediment Transport in Idaho and Nevada - Boise Adjudication Team


Research Interests

Fluvial geomorphology, watershed processes, and interactions between physical and biological systems in mountain basins. Effects of wood debris on channel morphology, hydraulics, and sediment transport. Basin-scale predictions of salmonid spawning habitat distributions. Topographically-forced hyporheic flow. Channel and aquatic habitat response to wildfire. Mechanics of sediment motion and bedload transport. Sediment sampling.

Past Research

Effects of timber harvest on channel morphology, Bed load transport, Channel classification, Incipient motion, Effects of salmonid spawning on fluvial processes.

Why This Research is Important

Fundamental insight regarding fluvial processes, biophysical interactions, and response to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.  Tools for watershed management. 


  • University of California, Berkeley, BA Geology and Geophysics, 1988
  • University of Washington, MS Geomorphology, 1995
  • University of Washington, Ph.D. Geomorphology, 1998

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Last updated on : 12/11/2014