Assessing habitat enhancement by living shoreline restoration: exploring potential caveats of nekton community metrics
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Assessing habitat enhancement by living shoreline restoration: exploring potential caveats of nekton community metrics

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  • Journal Title:
    Restoration Ecology
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    Living shorelines (LS) are a nature‐based restoration technique that aims to stabilize shorelines while enhancing multiple ecosystem services. In particular, LS are frequently promoted as beneficial for enhancing essential coastal habitats for fish and mobile crustaceans (nekton). In this study, we aimed to assess the effects of LS on nekton habitat across eight LS restoration sites in coastal Alabama, U.S.A., by applying widely‐used community metrics. Nekton abundance, species richness, evenness, and diversity tended to be higher in LS and adjacent unrestored control sites than along nearby hardened shorelines. Community metrics showed no clear effect of LS compared to their adjacent controls, with substantial among‐site variation masking any restoration effect. While this may suggest an ecological equivalence between restored and control sites, there are other possible interpretations; that a lack of difference reflects sampling the same populations at nearby control and restored sites, that differences do exist but sampling effort was insufficient to detect them, or that community metrics may be too insensitive for comparing the effects of various restoration approaches on nekton habitat quality. Further exploration of individual‐based metrics such as growth and condition of key species is warranted, as these may be more sensitive for assessing restoration outcomes and guiding future project designs.
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    Restoration Ecology, 31(5)
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    Accepted Manuscript
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