The beach and dune ecosystem team now has recommendations for revisions to your cooperative’s beach and dune indicators. These changes are now open for comment until July 15th. You can either comment at the bottom of this post or email me directly (rua@southatlanticlcc.org).

Here are the proposed changes to the beaches and dunes indicators:

Productivity of loggerhead sea turtles

Provides an indicator of human disturbance and nest predation pressure for beach nesting species, are well monitored, and resonate with a diversity of audiences.

Proposed change: The team identified numerous problems with using loggerhead sea turtles as indicators of ecosystem integrity including: 1) Extensive use of nest relocations and nest-specific predator guards and 2) High site fidelity to beaches despite increasing disturbance and degradation of habitat. The data-driven testing of the Ecological Criteria also supported the groups concerns with how well loggerhead sea turtles could represent ecosystem integrity. Remove this as an indicator. The Beach Bird Index and Altered Beach indicator will be better indicators of human disturbance and nest predation pressure.

Beach bird index

Provides an indicator of a variety of ecosystem features and is already being modeled and monitored for the entire region by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture. Species in the index include: Piping plover, American oystercatcher, Wilson’s plover, red knot, least tern.

Proposed change: Remove red knot from the index and consider adding it back in the future as more refined information is available

Accessing the GIS data: Please email Amy (amy_keister@fws.gov) to get access to this layer. We should be able to make the layer publicly accessible in a month or so.

Miles of altered beach

Altered beach (including jetties, groins, and other shoreline hardening) provides a measure of overall habitat alteration and is generally well monitored.

Proposed change: While it was originally thought that consistent data on this metric for the entire LCC was not available, the ecosystem team was able to identify another potential source for this information that is being investigated now. If those data can not be accessed in time, the back-up plan is to use nearby urban development to measure the miles of altered beach.

Indicators to be used to calculate beach and dune integrity:

BeachAndDuneIntegrity