Invasive Dune Grasses, Coastal Services and Habitat Restoration in a Changing Climate

Event Type: Online
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This webinar will consist of two presentations that explore the effects of invasive grasses, climate change and their interactions on coastal sand dune ecosystems. The talks will span the latest research on ecosystem transformation and services to management that supports resilient habitats for native species.

  • Dr. Sally Hacker: For centuries, coastal dunes have provided humans with important services such as coastal protection, carbon storage, recreation and biodiversity conservation. Dunes form at low-lying coastal margins where sand transported by oceanic waves and wind combine with vegetation to produce dynamic backshore structures. Dr. Hacker will synthesize field surveys and a suite of interdisciplinary experiments to examine the role of invasive dune grasses in the landscape level transformation of PNW sandy coastlines over the last century. She focuses on how this transformation has had intended and unintended consequences for coastal hazard exposure and other services under a changing climate.
  • William Ritchie: The Leadbetter Point coastal habitat restoration project aims to remove and control invasive Ammophila beachgrass with the goal of increasing streaked horned lark and western snowy plover populations and improving their reproductive success. Both species have been declining as dune-stabilizing invasive beach grasses encroach on available nesting habitat, creating a new ecological regime of densely vegetated coastal dunes. Habitat restoration is anticipated to be on a scale where dynamic ecological processes of disturbance (i.e., wind-blown sand) and recolonization by a native plant community allows the ecosystem to return to a more natural state requiring limited future maintenance. Sea level rise is beginning to impact areas of the outer beach utilized by larks and plovers forcing them to move further landward. In anticipation that some nesting birds will need to move inland, this project allows for coastal dune retreat.