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In Situ Effects of Shoreline Type and Watershed Land Use on Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Habitat Quality in the Chesapeake and Mid-Atlantic Coastal Bays
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    Estuaries and Coasts, 41, S101-S113.
Filetype[PDF-1.33 MB]

  • Description:
    Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) is an ecologically and economically valuable component of coastal estuaries that acts as an early indicator of both degrading and improving water quality. This study aimed to determine if shoreline hardening, which is associated with increased population pressure and climate change, acts to degrade SAV habitat quality at the local scale. In situ comparisons of SAV beds adjacent to both natural and hardened shorelines in 24 subestuaries throughout the Chesapeake and Mid-Atlantic Coastal Bays indicated that shoreline hardening does impact adjacent SAV beds. Species diversity, evenness, and percent cover were significantly reduced in the presence of riprap revetment. A post hoc analysis also confirmed that SAV is locally affected by watershed land use associated with increased population pressure, though to a lesser degree than impacts observed from shoreline armoring. When observed over time, SAV recovery at the local level took approximately 3 to 4 years following storm impacts, and SAV adjacent to natural shorelines showed more resilience to storms than SAV adjacent to armored shorelines. The negative impacts of shoreline hardening and watershed development on SAV shown here will inform coastal zone management decisions as increasing coastal populations and sea level rise drive these practices.
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