This paper presents an exploratory study that comprises the implementation and comparison of different approaches and parameterization of sediment transport mechanisms in a process-based morphological model for simulating river dunes. The purpose of this study was to assess the underlying physical processes associated with sediment transport and dune evolution simulated by the model with two different bedload transport models: a non-equilibrium approach considering saltation distance and an equilibrium approach with the incorporation of the effect of the local bed slope. The advancement of this study is that it comprised detailed analysis of the bed shear stress and sediment transport over a dune during time varying flows, comparing both transport models and revealing distinctive transient features of bedload transport and dune evolution. We also improved a non-equilibrium transport model by incorporating a formulation for sediment saltation distance as a length-scale. Using both sediment transport approaches, the morphological model was applied to replicate a large-scale field experiment. Notably, the model yielded the quasi-equilibrium dune feature reasonably well using either sediment-transport formulation. However, detailed analysis of simulated spatial and temporal features of sediment transport and the dune evolution process were found to be noticeably different. Even though both sediment transport mechanisms appear to work adequately at a basic level, the major difference between the two approaches is the underlying transport process over the dunes and time-scale of the dune evolution process.