Geomorphic systems are known to exhibit nonlinear responses to physical–biological feedbacks (Thornes, 1985; Baas, 2002; Reinhardt et al., 2010). These responses make understanding and/or predicting system response to change highly challenging. With growing concerns over ecosystem health, a pressing need exists for research that tries to elucidate these feedbacks (Jerolmack, 2008; Darby, 2010; National Research Council, 2010). A session was convened at the Fall 2008 meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to provide an outlet for some of this truly interdisciplinary and original research, which is central to understanding geomorphic and ecological dynamics. The session attracted over 39 contributions, which were divided into two well-attended oral sessions and a very busy poster session. This special issue presents new research from the AGU session, which highlights clear physical–biological feedbacks. The aim is to bring together contrasting perspectives on biological and geomorphic feedbacks in a diversity of physiographic settings, ranging from wetlands and estuaries, through rivers, to uplands. These papers highlight biological and physical feedbacks which involve the modulation or amplification of geomorphic processes. These papers will be of interest to a core geomorphology audience, and should also draw attention from the fields of ecohydraulics, hydroecology, ecohydrology, ecomorphology, biogeochemistry and biogeography, and biogeomorphology as well as the more traditional fields of hydrology, ecology and biology. In this preface to the special issue, we a) review past contributions to the emerging field of ecogeomorphology and related disciplines, b) provide some context for how this topical special issue came to fruition, and c) summarize the contributions to this special issue.