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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 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.
  • 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.

Shoreline Rapid Assessment

The Rapid Assessment tool is intended for use by knowledgeable and engaged persons to provide a rough quantification of site attributes known to affect biota and ecological processes.  Some of the attributes, such as slope, are directly linked to important aspects of the shore-zone ecology such as accumulation of wrack or presence of dead wood.  Other variables, such as vegetation, are the result of management decisions. The tool has been “ground-truthed” in the tidal freshwater Hudson and would not necessarily be applicable elsewhere.  While training is best done in person it is feasible to give sufficient instruction via webinar to allow for reliable data collection.  Ideally one experienced person could oversee volunteers doing observations at multiple locations for a particular site.

Rapid Assessment

Rapid Assessment Field Guide

Rapid Assessment Example

 


¹ Strayer, D.L. and S.E.G. Findlay. 2010. The ecology of freshwater shore zones. Aquatic Sciences 72: 127-163. (http://springerlink.com/content/147526m7134jnt48/fulltext.pdf

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. http://www.hudsonriver.org/ls/reports/Polgar_Harris_TP_03_09_final.pdf

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. http://www.hudsonriver.org/ls/reports/Polgar_Villamagna_TP_08_08_final.pdf

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