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Coastal, Dune & Upland

Coastal ecosystems, usually comprised of beach, dune or upland habitats, are highly dynamic units formed by wind and water. Due to their extensive root systems, native vegetation is able to stabilize dunes and reduce coastal erosion. Natural and healthy fluctuations in their size and shape generally occur as a result of storms and tides however human activities such as agriculture, mining, grading, and development now often increase erosion and destabilize/degrade coastal ecosystems. Invasive plants and animals also greatly impact terrestrial and near shore habitats displacing natives and altering natural systems. Habitat loss and fragmentation are often the result.

“A number of coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay, the northern Gulf of Mexico, Long Island Sound in the U.S. and the North Sea and the Adriatic in Europe have experienced plankton blooms and depletion of oxygen because of increased nutrients carried in runoff. This is a particular concern because these coastal areas are important fisheries.” Environmental Literacy Council


Coastal America
Coastal America is a unique partnership of federal agencies, state and local governments, and private organizations. The partners work together to protect, preserve, and restore our nation’s coasts. The challenge is to meld the capabilities and expertise of all the partners to solve local coastal problems. This is accomplished by sharing information, pooling resources, and combining management skills and technical expertise.

Coastal Ecosystem Research at NOAA
NOAA and its predecessor organizations have been conducting coastal ecosystem research since the late 19th century. Coastal ecosystem science is the study of inter-relationships among the living organisms, physical features, bio-chemical processes, natural phenomena, and human activities in coastal ecological communities. Taking an integrated approach is key to better managing and protecting our coastal resources.

NOAA Coastal Ecosystem Restoration
The systematic approach to coastal restoration projects presented here and throughout this website includes five phases: planning, implementation, performance assessment, adaptive management, and dissemination of results. This systematic approach was developed by Battelle scientists (Diefenderfer, Thom, and Adkins 2003) through direct experience in designing, implementing, and monitoring restoration projects over the past 18 years.

US Fish and Wildlife Coastal Program
The Coastal Program focuses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts in bays, estuaries and watersheds around the U.S. coastline. The purpose of the Coastal Program is to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats to support healthy coastal ecosystems. The Service provides funding through the program to 22 high-priority coastal ecosystems.

USGS Coastal Ecosystems
Links to a number of resources providing research on biological communities and habitats within the narrow zones of land between the margin of oceans or seas and large landmasses.

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