Quantifying Landscape / Ecological Succession in a Coastal Dune System Using Sequential Aerial Photography and GIS

  • S. Shanmugam
  • M. Barnsley
Part of the Coastal Systems and Continental Margins book series (CSCM, volume 4)


This chapter presents an attempt to measure the path of habitat and vegetation succession in a coastal dune system (Kenfig NNR, south Wales) using remote sensing and GIS. The loss of slack habitats associated with the continuing stabilization of this dune system is a major cause for concern. These habitats support a range of plant species, including the rare fen orchid, Liparis loeselii, as well as other hydrophytes. A decrease in their areal extent implies a reduction in biodiversity. To quantify the overall rate and spatial dimension of these changes, a series of aerial photographs dating from 1962 to 1994 were digitised and analysed in an image processing system. The resultant maps, transferred to a vector-based GIS, were used to derive a transition matrix for the dune system over this period of time. The results indicate that there has been a marked reduction in the total area of bare sand (19.6% of the dune system in 1962, but only 1.48% in 1994) and a decline in both the areal extent and the number of dune slacks. Over the same period of time, there has been an increase in Salix repens dominated habitats, at the expense of pioneer species. Analysis of the habitat maps, together with hydrological data, within the GIS suggests that even the dry slacks have the potential for further greening and to support invasive species. In terms of habitat management, however, there is still scope to restore many of the slacks to their original state. It is estimated that at least 24% of the area occupied by partially and moderately vegetated slacks could be rehabilitated.


Geographical Information System Aerial Photograph Coastal Dune Areal Extent Dune System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dargie, T.C.D. (1995). Sand dune vegetation survey of Great Britain. A national inventory. Part 3: Wales. Report of the JNCC. Scotland.Google Scholar
  2. Davis, F.W., Stine, P.A., and Stoms, D.M., (1994). Distribution and conservation status of coastal sage scrub in southern California. Journal of Vegetation. Science. Vol. 5:743–756.Google Scholar
  3. Hartog, M., van der Meulen, F., and Jongejans, J. (1992). Dune landscape development and changing groundwater regime: Quantitative landscape succession with help of a GIS. Coastal dunes. Geomorphology, Ecology and Management for Conservation. Balkema. Rotterdam.Google Scholar
  4. Howard, J. A. (1970). Aerial Photo-Ecology. Faber and Faber, London.Google Scholar
  5. Hurford, C. (1992). A survey to monitor the fen orchid Liparis loeselii in dune slacks ND6 at Kenfig NNR. Countryside Council for Wales report. Bangor. Wales.Google Scholar
  6. Jones, P.S. (1992). Autoecological studies on the rare orchid Liparis loeselli and their application to the management of dune slack ecosystems in South Wales. Coastal dunes. Geomorphology, Ecology and Management for Conservation. Balkema. Rotterdam.Google Scholar
  7. Jones, P.S. (1993). Ecological and hydrological studies of dune slack vegetation at Kenfig NNR, Mid Glamorgan. Ph.D Thesis. University College of Wales Cardiff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Shanmugam
  • M. Barnsley

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations