Examining the ecological function of small-scale living shorelines in Galveston Bay

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Living shorelines are an increasingly popular shoreline protection strategy. In contrast to traditional armoring techniques such as concrete bulkheads, living shorelines are designed to provide the many ecological functions and benefits of natural coastal wetlands. Despite a wealth of knowledge on coastal wetland restoration, studies verifying ecological function in living shorelines are limited. The objective of this study was to provide a comprehensive ecological assessment of three living shoreline projects in the Galveston Bay system. This study collected data on stem density, percent cover, and root-biomass to characterize plant communities. Data was also collected on the abundance and community structure of benthic and nekton organisms. Additionally, sediment heavy metal concentrations were examined. Living shoreline data was compared to both natural and armored shorelines ultimately confirming the suspected hypothesis that living shoreline sites function similarly to natural shorelines and improved over armored shorelines.

Living shorelines, coastal wetlands, wetland restoration, ecology