We discuss the importance of modeling riparian vegetation and river flow interactions under differing hydrologic regimes. Modelling tools have notable implications with regard to the understanding of riverine ecosystem functioning and to promote sustainable management of water resources. We present both deterministic and stochastic approaches with different levels of simplification, and discuss their use in relation to river and vegetation dynamics at the related scale of interest.We apply such models to both meandering and braided rivers, in particular focusing on the floodplain dynamics of an alpine braided river affected by water impoundment. For this specific case we show what the expected changes in riparian vegetation may be in a 'controlled release' scenario for the postdam river Maggia, Switzerland. Finally, the use of these models is discussed in the context of current research efforts devoted to river restoration practice.