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Assessing geomorphic and sediment budget responses to foredune vegetation restoration using close-range remote sensing

Authors: Zach Hilgendorf*, Arizona State University School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Ian J Walker, Arizona State University School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Andrea Pickart, US Fish and Wildlife Service Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Alana Rader, Rutgers University Department of Geography, Bernard Bauer, The University of British Columbia Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences, Patrick Hesp, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering, Beach and Dune Systems (BEADS) Lab
Topics: Physical Geography, Coastal and Marine, Biogeography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 2:25 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Virtual Track 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In many areas, the coastal zone faces increasing pressure from rising sea levels,
increasing erosion and flooding. On sandy coasts, foredunes formed by the interaction
of wind flow, sand transport, and vegetation serve a vital role in protecting landward
communities, infrastructure, habitats, and resources, whilst providing many other
important ecosystem services. Foredunes are frequently impacted by erosive waves
and high water levels, that disrupt sediment transport pathways required for foredune
maintenance and rebuilding. Changes in plant community composition can also alter
foredune morphodynamics. For instance, invasive vegetation can limit onshore aeolian
sediment delivery and inhibit natural morphodynamics in ways that reduce foredune
resilience to erosion events.
This study reports results from ongoing foredune restoration at the Lanphere Dunes in
the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Arcata, California. Invasive vegetation
(Ammophila arenaria) was removed and replanted with different assemblages of native
species. Three treatment plots were planted in 2016 to assess how varying plant
community structure affects foredune morphodynamics and sediment budgets in
response to erosive events. Five years (2015-2019) of biannual (spring/fall) terrestrial
laser scanning and (winter/summer) cross-shore profiles support the hypothesis that
native vegetation treatments show a more resilient response to erosion (i.e. faster
recovery times, increased landward sand transport) compared to invasive vegetation.
The system was heavily scarped in 2015-16 (El NiƱo) and 2016-17 (strong winter
storms) and, while stretches of the foredune with Ammophila remain scarped, treatment
sites with native vegetation typically show re-coupling of the beach to the foredune
(scarp rebuilding) in a matter of months.

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