Post-Nourishment Beach Benthic Invertebrate Recovery

Barrier island beaches are often the first line of defense against tropical systems along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Coastal development, even with restrictions, is vulnerable to shoreline erosion and flooding, and as a result, property owners and developers may face significant economic and property losses.

Coastal erosion and shoreline retreat are also deleterious to the value of the habitat to fish and other wildlife, including endangered and threatened species such as sea turtles, Piping Plover, and Red Knot. Engineered solutions to coastal erosion, such as beach nourishment, are in ever greater demand, and are being used more often as sea level rises more rapidly and the frequency and intensity of tropical systems increases.

This project will employ beach benthic macrofaunal monitoring to assess time for the benthic invertebrate community to recover following a beach nourishment event. Benthic invertebrates are the most frequently targeted organisms for these assessments due to their ability to act as ecological indicators. This work will be used to estimate an allowable frequency of nourishment for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “Regional General Permit” (RGP).