Loss of Coastal Strand Habitat in Southern California: The Role of Beach Grooming
- 1.2k Downloads
We investigated the role of beach grooming in the loss of coastal strand ecosystems. On groomed beaches, unvegetated dry sand zones were four times wider, macrophyte wrack cover was >9 times lower, and native plant abundance and richness were 15 and >3 times lower, respectively, compared to ungroomed beaches. Experimental comparisons of native plant performance were consistent with our survey results: although initial germination was similar, seed bank, survival, and reproduction were significantly lower in groomed compared to ungroomed plots. Rates of aeolian sand transport were significantly higher in groomed plots, while native plants or wrack placed in that zone reduced sand transport. Our results suggest beach grooming has contributed to widespread conversion of coastal strand ecosystems to unvegetated sand. Increased conservation of these threatened coastal ecosystems could help retain sediment, promote the formation of dunes, and maintain biodiversity, wildlife, and human use in the face of rising sea levels.
KeywordsNative plants Aeolian sand transport Biodiversity Beach Beach zones Ecotone Coastal dune Hummock Macrophyte wrack Kelp
We thank D. Chakos, M. Lastra, M. Lippincott, J. Tarmann, and A. Webster for their dedication and enthusiastic assistance with all aspects of field and laboratory work. We gratefully acknowledge K. Samis for her measurements of beaches on the northern Channel Islands in 2003. We extend special thanks to V. Gardner, Resource Ecologist for California State Parks, Channel Coast District, for making this research possible at San Buenaventura State Beach. We thank V. Gardner, C. Roye, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. This research was supported by funding to J. Dugan from (1) the California Sea Grant Program Project # R/CZ-174 under NOAA Grant #NA06RG0142 through NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, U. S. Department of Commerce; (2) California Department of Parks and Recreation, Channel Coast District; and (3) the Santa Barbara Coastal LTER funded by the National Science Foundation (Award # OCE-9982105 and OCE-0620276). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Sea Grant, California State Parks, the National Science Foundation or the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
Conflicts of Interest Notification
The authors hereby state that they do not have a financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research and that no potential conflicts of interest exist to our knowledge and understanding. We maintain full control of all primary data and we agree to allow the journal to review our data if requested.
- Barbour, M.G. 1992. Life at the leading edge: The beach plant syndrome. In Coastal plant communities of Latin America, ed. U. Seeliger, 291–307. San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
- Barbour, M.G., and A.F. Johnson. 1988. Beach and dune. In Terrestrial vegetation of California, ed. M.G. Barbour, and J. Major, 223–262. New York: Wiley Interscience. Reprinted with supplement by California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA.Google Scholar
- Bauer, B.O., and D.J. Sherman. 1999. Coastal dune dynamics: Problems and prospects. In Aeolian environments, sediments and landforms, ed. A.S. Goudie, I. Livingston, and S. Stokes, 71–104. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Bird, E.C.F. 2000. Coastal geomorphology: An introduction. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Clark, J.R. 1996. Coastal zone management handbook. Florida: CRC.Google Scholar
- Dugan, J.E., D.M. Hubbard, J.M. Engle, D.L. Martin, D.M. Richards, G.E. Davis, K.D. Lafferty, and R.F. Ambrose. 2000. Macrofauna communities of exposed sandy beaches on the Southern California mainland and Channel Islands. In Fifth California Islands Symposium, 339–346. Outer Continental Shelf Study, US Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service 99-0038, http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/units/medn/symposia/5th%20California%20Islands%20Symposium%20%281999%29/Proceedings/.
- Dugan, J.E., D.M. Hubbard, M. McCrary, and M. Pierson. 2003. The response of macrofauna communities and shorebirds to macrophyte wrack subsidies on exposed sandy beaches of southern California. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 58S: 133–148.Google Scholar
- Fink, B.H., and J.B. Zedler. 1990. Maritime stress tolerance studies of California dune perennials. Madrono 37(3): 220–213.Google Scholar
- Komar, P.D. 1998. Beach processes and sedimentation. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Llewellyn, P.J., and S.E. Shackley. 1996. The effects of mechanical beach-cleaning on invertebrate populations. British Wildlife 7: 147–155.Google Scholar
- Martin, K.T., R. Speer-Blank, J. Pommerening, K. Flannery, and K. Carpenter. 2006. Does beach grooming harm grunion eggs? Shore and Beach 74: 17–22.Google Scholar
- Nordstrom, K.F. 2000. Beaches and dunes on developed coasts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Page, G.W., J.S. Warriner, J.C. Warriner, and P.W.C. Paton. 1995. Snowy plover. In The birds of North America, No. 154, ed. A. Poole, and G. Gill, 1–23. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences.Google Scholar
- Roig i Munar, F.X. 2004. Analisis y consecuencias de la modificacion artificial del perfil playa-duna provocado por el effecto mecanico de su limpieza. Investigaciones Geograficas 33: 87–103.Google Scholar