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6 January 2021 Quantifying Changes in Surface Elevation in Conjunction with Growth Characteristics of Incipient and Foredune Vegetation
Marita T. McGuirk, David M. Kennedy, Teresa Konlechner, Andre Chiaradia
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McGuirk, M.T.; Kennedy, D.M.; Konlechner, T., and Chiaradia, A., 2021. Quantifying changes in surface elevation in conjunction with growth characteristics of incipient and foredune vegetation. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(1), 216–224. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Vegetation is critical for the initiation and growth of incipient dunes and foredunes by providing structure to entrap and store sand. Vegetation characteristics (leaf length, width, height, and quantity) directly influence the rate and volume of sand deposition and therefore the final dune morphology. This paper describes a low-cost and highly portable method to quantify changes in sand surface elevation in relation to plant growth character. A sediment elevation platform was constructed from steel and Perspex, from which surface elevation and plant character can be measured with a movable wooden dowel. This was used in conjunction with a point intercept pin frame to quantify leaf height and number of touches, from which leaf density and frequency were calculated. The system is collapsible, lightweight, and costs AUD 360. It may be operated by a single person. It was tested in a pilot study conducted at Phillip Island, Australia. Plant attributes of two dominant coastal grasses (Spinifex sericeus and Thinopyrum junceiforme) were quantified in December 2018 and January 2019, and sand elevation changes were quantified in January and February 2019. Data collected during the measurement period displayed the influence of plant growth on sand accumulation on a monthly scale. Measurements showed an increase in sand surface elevation from January to February. The average vertical sand accretion for the quadrant with T. junceiforme in January was 29 mm and in February was 89 mm, whereas S. sericeus had an average vertical sand accretion for January of 95 mm and for February of 162 mm. The number of leaves of S. sericeus increased from December (48) to January (169). This new method enables tracking of changes in sand morphology, along with the specific plant growth characteristics. This knowledge may enable the planning of specific dune morphologies using specific plant species and assist in dune recovery after erosion.

©Coastal Education and Research Foundation, Inc. 2021
Marita T. McGuirk, David M. Kennedy, Teresa Konlechner, and Andre Chiaradia "Quantifying Changes in Surface Elevation in Conjunction with Growth Characteristics of Incipient and Foredune Vegetation," Journal of Coastal Research 37(1), 216-224, (6 January 2021).
Received: 11 February 2020; Accepted: 31 July 2020; Published: 6 January 2021
sand accumulation
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