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Shorelines Ecology

Hudson River Shorelines Ecology

Shore zones are vital habitat for multiple life stages of many fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.  Different shore zones provide different kinds and levels of habitat, and when aggregated, can significantly influence life in the Hudson River ecosystem. This part of the project is generating information from the literature and field studies to identify shoreline types and features that are best to support life in the Hudson River, as well as those that reduce near shore life.

  • The Hudson River has numerous shoreline areas that stand to benefit from the implementation of new shore zone infrastructure. The term “infrastructure” represents built structures such as bulkheads, sills, and revetments, as well as enhancements to such structures such as planted vegetation. However, there are many factors to consider before making any decision regarding shore zone management, and Dr. David Strayer details many of these in Ten Questions to Ask When Building Defenses to Protect Hudson River Shorelines. These Individual questions combine to form a thorough but simplified framework, which can assist stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds on how to make the best decisions when it comes to building and managing shore zone infrastructure along the Hudson. The Hudson River Foundation provided funding for this brochure. For a printable version, click HERE.
  • The purpose of the Managing Shore Zones for Ecological Benefits Handbook is to offer suggestions for practical ways that landowners and land managers can protect shore zones and increase the benefits that they provide. Although targeted at the Hudson River, many of these suggestions will be helpful for managing shore zones along lakes, rivers, and estuaries elsewhere.
  • Resources for Planning, Designing, Constructing, and Maintaining a Nature-Based Shoreline Protection Project
  • was published in 2020 to be used in conjunction with the above two publications and provides new information and links to other parts of this website such as information on native vegetation,  permitting and case studies.
  • Literature Review:  Dave Strayer and Stuart Findlay of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies produced a comprehensive summary of published literature on the ecology of shore zones. This work was funded by a NOAA grant for Hudson River NERR operations.¹
  • Comparison of ecology of natural and engineered shorelines:  In work underwritten by the Hudson River Foundation, Cary Institute scientists and the Hudson River Estuary Program’s restoration ecologist completed a field comparisons study of three natural and three engineered shorelines.²   A brochure [PDF]  describes ten ways to protect the shorezone  and explains the ecological importance of the shorezone.
  • Related Shorelines Research: Other investigators have conducted research on wrack and shore roughness through research fellowships and master’s theses under partners in this project.³
  • In-Depth Study of Ecology of Engineered Shorelines:  Beginning in 2012, with NERRS Science Collaborative funding, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies will lead an in-depth study of the ecology of engineered shorelines to identify which hardened or engineered shorelines are better for natural communities, focusing on identifying those elements of shoreline design that can be manipulated in the shoreline design process.
  • Ecological research on built shorelines (looking at vegetation and fish) along the Hudson River has been completed by Cary IES scientists. Summaries of their work are provided here: Vegetation of riprapped revetments and Effects of shore type and physical complexity on fishes.


Shoreline Rapid Assessment for Ecological and Physical Performance

A monitoring protocol for assessing the ecological and physical performance of shorelines will be available in Autumn 2018.

Read about it here.

¹ Strayer, D.L. and S.E.G. Findlay. 2010. The ecology of freshwater shore zones. Aquatic Sciences 72: 127-163. (

² Strayer, D.L., S.E.G. Findlay, D. Miller, H.M. Malcolm, D.T. Fischer, and T. Coote. 2012. “Biodiversity in Hudson River shore zones: influence of shoreline type and physical structure” Aquatic Sciences 74: 597–610

³ Harris, C. and D. Strayer. 2011. The Ecology of Wrack: Decomposition and Use By Invertebrates On Natural and Engineered Shorelines of the Hudson River.

Villamagna, A., D. Strayer, and S. Findlay. 2009. Effects of surface roughness on ecological function: Implications for engineered structures in the Hudson River shore zone.

Tivoli Bays Launch Closure – 2020

The canoe and kayak launch on the Kidd Lane access road at Tivoli Bays WMA is closed for renovations until further notice. At this time, DEC does not have an estimated completion date for the project. Please contact Nathan Ermer at 845-256-3047 for more information about this project. Thank you for your patience and understanding.