Metrics to assess ecological condition, change, and impacts in sandy beach ecosystems.

Schlacher, TA, Schoeman, DS, Jones, AR, Dugan, JE, Hubbard, DM, Defeo, O, Peterson, CH, Weston, Michael, Maslo, B, Olds, AD, Scapini, F, Nel, R, Harris, LR, Lucrezi, S, Lastra, M, Huijbers, CM and Connolly, RM 2014, Metrics to assess ecological condition, change, and impacts in sandy beach ecosystems., Journal of environmental management, vol. 144, pp. 322-335, doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.05.036.

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Title Metrics to assess ecological condition, change, and impacts in sandy beach ecosystems.
Author(s) Schlacher, TA
Schoeman, DS
Jones, AR
Dugan, JE
Hubbard, DM
Defeo, O
Peterson, CH
Weston, MichaelORCID iD for Weston, Michael
Maslo, B
Olds, AD
Scapini, F
Nel, R
Harris, LR
Lucrezi, S
Lastra, M
Huijbers, CM
Connolly, RM
Journal name Journal of environmental management
Volume number 144
Start page 322
End page 335
Total pages 14
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2014-11-01
ISSN 1095-8630
Keyword(s) biological monitoring
coastal dunes
ecological indicators
environmental values
sandy beaches
wildlife conservation
science & technology
life sciences & biomedicines
environmental sciences
environmental Sciences & ecologys
off-road vehicles
sea-level rise
climate-change impacts
ghost crabs
Southern California
Eastern Australia
feeding ecology
Atlantic Coast
Barrier Island
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Summary Complexity is increasingly the hallmark in environmental management practices of sandy shorelines. This arises primarily from meeting growing public demands (e.g., real estate, recreation) whilst reconciling economic demands with expectations of coastal users who have modern conservation ethics. Ideally, shoreline management is underpinned by empirical data, but selecting ecologically-meaningful metrics to accurately measure the condition of systems, and the ecological effects of human activities, is a complex task. Here we construct a framework for metric selection, considering six categories of issues that authorities commonly address: erosion; habitat loss; recreation; fishing; pollution (litter and chemical contaminants); and wildlife conservation. Possible metrics were scored in terms of their ability to reflect environmental change, and against criteria that are widely used for judging the performance of ecological indicators (i.e., sensitivity, practicability, costs, and public appeal). From this analysis, four types of broadly applicable metrics that also performed very well against the indicator criteria emerged: 1.) traits of bird populations and assemblages (e.g., abundance, diversity, distributions, habitat use); 2.) breeding/reproductive performance sensu lato (especially relevant for birds and turtles nesting on beaches and in dunes, but equally applicable to invertebrates and plants); 3.) population parameters and distributions of vertebrates associated primarily with dunes and the supralittoral beach zone (traditionally focused on birds and turtles, but expandable to mammals); 4.) compound measurements of the abundance/cover/biomass of biota (plants, invertebrates, vertebrates) at both the population and assemblage level. Local constraints (i.e., the absence of birds in highly degraded urban settings or lack of dunes on bluff-backed beaches) and particular issues may require alternatives. Metrics - if selected and applied correctly - provide empirical evidence of environmental condition and change, but often do not reflect deeper environmental values per se. Yet, values remain poorly articulated for many beach systems; this calls for a comprehensive identification of environmental values and the development of targeted programs to conserve these values on sandy shorelines globally.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.05.036
Field of Research 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
MD Multidisciplinary
Socio Economic Objective 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Elsevier
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