Preliminary field surveys suggest that beach grooming and other human activities may be extirpating some wrack-associated invertebrates, which are often prime food for shorebirds. There is also evidence that dune plants and strand habitat are being pushed to the brink and that the loss of native plants has implications for sand transport on beaches. This project compiles new, recent and historic datasets on beach wildlife to, among other things, identify species in decline that may need greater protection. The biologists are also gathering information on the physical attributes of beaches—beach width, slope and sand dynamics—to search for patterns that might explain sand loss or beach narrowing and/or accretion. The wildlife study focuses on documenting trends in intertidal macroinvertebrate communities; however, a handful of beaches will also be surveyed for shorebirds and wrack abundance. All this is of relevance to the state’s efforts to prepare for climate change and maintain the ecosystem services of sandy beaches.
Beaches as Threatened Ecosystems: An Evaluation of Status and Trends in the Ecology of California’s Sandy Beaches