Due to their spatial complexity and dynamic nature, floodplains provide a wide range of ecosystem functions. However, because of flow regulation, many riverine floodplains have lost their characteristic heterogeneity. Restoration of floodplain habitats and the rehabilitation of key ecosystem functions has therefore become a major goal of environmental policy. Many important ecosystem functions are linked to organic carbon (C) dynamics in riparian soils. The fundamental understanding of the factors that drive the processes involved in C cycling in heterogeneous and dynamic systems such as floodplains is however only fragmentary.