Coastal Dunes pp 355-369 | Cite as

The Fragility and Conservation of the World's Coastal Dunes: Geomorphological, Ecological and Socioeconomic Perspectives

  • M. L. Martínez
  • M. A. Maun
  • N. P. Psuty
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 171)

Coastal dunes have a worldwide distribution and are comprised of a variety of forms going through successional changes in geomorphology and ecological association. Some changes are driven by natural processes whereas other changes are products of human endeavors. Coastal dunes are highly valuable multifunctional ecosystems that occupy a unique natural niche.Further, these same systems are ideal locations for recreation, replenishment of local aquifers, and coastal defense (van der Meulen et al., Chap. 16, this Vol.).However, in spite of their many valuable attributes, these ecosystems share a history of exploitation and mismanagement. The greatest threat to their survival is overuse, urban expansion, urban sprawl, mining, and pollution. Frequently, these systems and their functions are completely replaced by high rise buildings, residential development, cottages, tourist resorts, and recreation parks. The eventual consequence of such activities is the destruction of a fragile ecosystem.Tourism, in particular, has become an important activity with economic benefits that have resulted in severe environmental degradation of dunes. For example, hotels and houses are built directly on the dunes and trampling by people kills the stabilizing vegetation, thus exacerbating the process of sand movement and dune erosion. These changes in sediment supply and the regional sand budget produce extensive geomorphological and ecological damage with important economic consequences (Psuty, Chap. 2, this Vol.). As a result, there is the net loss of coastal dunes, their dynamics, and their natural biological diversity. Dune slacks have been similarly subjected to systematic alteration through overexploitation by grazing, hay making, and growth of crops.


Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Sand Dune Coastal Dune Arbuscular Mycorrhizae 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.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Martínez
    • 1
  • M. A. Maun
    • 2
  • N. P. Psuty
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología VegetalInstituto de Ecología, A.CVeracruzMéxico
  2. 2.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Marine and Coastal SciencesRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations