Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 June 2021) | Viewed by 15598

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, Clemson University, P.O. Box 596, Georgetown, SC 29442, USA
Interests: forested wetland ecology; wetland management; wetland creation and restoration; effects of man and nature on natural environments; wetlands for wastewater treatment; estuarine/upland connections; changing land-use impacts on natural systems
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Guest Editor
School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Interests: crown dynamics; stem mechanics; population biology; competition; size–density relationships
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A combination of anthropogenic and natural factors threaten the coastline and the forests that lie between the coast and the uplands. Various transportation, navigation, and flood control projects have greatly altered hydrology, leading to drying in the upper reaches of flood plains and permanent flooding in the lower reaches. Rising sea level encroaches on coastal forests as well, and salt water has intruded into normally fresh-water swamps. These alterations are favoring species changes in the upper reaches and conversion to marsh in the lower regions. To forestall these changes, more information is needed to support efforts to maintain coastal forest and to regenerate and restore coastal forests for the near future and to identify environmental conditions that need to be created when planning rehabilitation projects.

The aim of this Special Issue to create a collection of articles addressing the basic and applied ecology of coastal species, how they respond to changes in their habitat, and analyses of rehabilitation projects. The scope of the issue includes species commonly associated with coastal forests, the threats facing coastal forests with specific examples, and management practices used to regenerate and tend coastal forests.

The types of manuscripts we are soliciting include the following involving coastal species and changes in their habitat:

  • Silviculture
  • Production ecology
  • Ecohydrology
  • Tolerance
  • Restoration case studies

Prof. Dr. William H. Conner
Prof. Dr. Thomas J. Dean
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Coastal forests
  • Sea-level rise
  • Silviculture
  • Ecohydrology
  • Tolerance

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 2093 KiB  
Article
Changes within a South Carolina Coastal Wetland Forest in the Face of Rising Sea Level
by William Conner, Stefanie Whitmire, Jamie Duberstein, Richard Stalter and John Baden
Forests 2022, 13(3), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/f13030414 - 05 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2306
Abstract
Rising sea levels and increasing salinity are impacting coastal forests of the Southern U.S. Forest productivity and composition was studied from 2014 to 2020 in paired plots (20 × 25-m) along a porewater salinity gradient (0, 0.8, 2.6, 4.6 PSU). Aboveground net primary [...] Read more.
Rising sea levels and increasing salinity are impacting coastal forests of the Southern U.S. Forest productivity and composition was studied from 2014 to 2020 in paired plots (20 × 25-m) along a porewater salinity gradient (0, 0.8, 2.6, 4.6 PSU). Aboveground net primary productivity was estimated by summing annual litterfall and woody growth. In addition, voucher specimens for each vascular plant species were collected. Productivity differed in forest communities across the salinity gradient averaging 1081, 777, 694, and 613 g m−2 yr−1 in fresh, low-salt, mid-salt, Freshwater forest communities and high-salt sites, respectively. The vascular flora consisted of 144 species within 121 genera and 57 families. Although salinity in Strawberry Swamp is currently declining, it hasn’t reached levels low enough to reverse the loss of forested wetlands. With projections of continuing sea level rise and increasing salinity intrusions, tree regeneration and growth will continue to decline as the forest transitions into marsh. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion)
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18 pages, 3658 KiB  
Article
Principal Factors Influencing Tree Growth in Low-Lying Mid Atlantic Coastal Forests
by LeeAnn Haaf, Salli F. Dymond and Danielle A. Kreeger
Forests 2021, 12(10), 1351; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12101351 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2230
Abstract
Flood frequencies in coastal forests are increasing as sea level rise accelerates from 3–4 mm year−1 to possibly more than 10 mm year−1 by the end of this century. As flooding increases, coastal forests retreat, ghost forests form, and coastal marshes [...] Read more.
Flood frequencies in coastal forests are increasing as sea level rise accelerates from 3–4 mm year−1 to possibly more than 10 mm year−1 by the end of this century. As flooding increases, coastal forests retreat, ghost forests form, and coastal marshes migrate inland. The existence of ghost forests makes the mechanism of forest retreat clear: low-lying trees become more exposed to coastal flooding until they ultimately die. Variability in these retreat rates, however, makes it difficult to predict where and when retreat will continue to occur. Understanding tree growth responses to tidal water levels relative to other environmental factors is a critical step in elucidating the factors that influence retreat variability. Here, dendrochronology was used to study factors that contribute to variations in growth patterns in four coastal forests fringing the Delaware and Barnegat Bays. Species chosen for study included loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), pitch pine (Pinus rigida), and American holly (Ilex opaca). Pearson’s and partial correlation tests showed that growth relationships with monthly environmental conditions varied across sites and were moderate in strength (generally R < 0.5), but each site had at least one significant growth-water level correlation. As coastal flooding exposure is spatially dependent, tree chronologies were also separated into high and low elevation groups. Pearson’s and partial correlation tests of the mean differences between elevation groups showed that at some sites, low elevation trees grew less than high elevation trees when water levels were high, as might be expected. At one site, however, lower elevation trees grew more when water levels were higher, which suggests that other interacting factors—regardless of current flood exposure—potentially have positive, yet likely temporary, influence over tree growth in these low-lying areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion)
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22 pages, 2838 KiB  
Article
Watershed and Estuarine Controls Both Influence Plant Community and Tree Growth Changes in Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands along Two U.S. Mid-Atlantic Rivers
by Gregory B. Noe, Norman A. Bourg, Ken W. Krauss, Jamie A. Duberstein and Cliff R. Hupp
Forests 2021, 12(9), 1182; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12091182 - 31 Aug 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1858
Abstract
The tidal freshwater zone near the estuarine head-of-tide is potentially sensitive to both sea-level rise and associated salinity increases as well as changing watershed inputs of freshwater and nutrients. We evaluated the vegetation response of tidal freshwater forested wetlands (TFFW) to changes in [...] Read more.
The tidal freshwater zone near the estuarine head-of-tide is potentially sensitive to both sea-level rise and associated salinity increases as well as changing watershed inputs of freshwater and nutrients. We evaluated the vegetation response of tidal freshwater forested wetlands (TFFW) to changes in nontidal river versus estuarine controls along the longitudinal gradient of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers in the Mid-Atlantic USA. The gradient included nontidal freshwater floodplain (NT) and upper tidal (UT), lower tidal (LT), and stressed tidal forest transitioning to marsh (ST) TFFW habitats on both rivers. Plot-based vegetation sampling and dendrochronology were employed to examine: (1) downriver shifts in plant community composition and the structure of canopy trees, understory trees/saplings/shrubs and herbs, tree basal-area increment (BAI) and (2) interannual variability in BAI from 2015 dating back as far as 1969 in relation to long-term river and estuary monitoring data. With greater tidal influence downstream, tree species dominance shifted, live basal area generally decreased, long-term mean BAI of individual trees decreased, woody stem mortality increased, and live herbaceous vegetative cover and richness increased. Acer rubrum, Fagus grandifolia, Ilex opaca, and Fraxinus pennsylvanica dominated NT and UT sites, with F. pennsylvanica and Nyssa sylvatica increasingly dominating at more downstream tidal sites. Annual tree BAI growth was positively affected by nontidal river flow at NT and UT sites which were closer to the head-of-tide, positively influenced by small salinity increases at LT and ST sites further downstream, and positively influenced by estuarine water level throughout the gradient; nutrient influence was site specific with both positive and negative influences. The counterintuitive finding of salinity increasing tree growth at sites with low BAI is likely due to either competitive growth release from neighboring tree death or enhanced soil nutrient availability that may temporarily mitigate the negative effects of low-level salinization and sea-level increases on living TFFW canopy trees, even as overall plant community conversion to tidal marsh progresses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion)
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15 pages, 10249 KiB  
Article
Hydrologic Restoration of the Lac des Allemands Swamp, Barataria, Louisiana
by Gary P. Shaffer, Demetra Kandalepas, Nicholas Stevens, Tessera Crockett and Glen Curole
Forests 2021, 12(8), 1074; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12081074 - 12 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1600
Abstract
Most of the forested wetlands of coastal Louisiana are in decline, primarily due to impoundment and increased flood duration. The Lac des Allemands swamp of Barataria Basin was a prime example of prolonged inundation prior to hydrologic restoration completed in February of 2018; [...] Read more.
Most of the forested wetlands of coastal Louisiana are in decline, primarily due to impoundment and increased flood duration. The Lac des Allemands swamp of Barataria Basin was a prime example of prolonged inundation prior to hydrologic restoration completed in February of 2018; the swamp had been impounded for over 60 years. To characterize restoration benefits, eight paired 625 m2 permanent sites were established close to and halfway between eight 30 m × 122 m gaps cut into the spoil bank of Bayou Chevreuil. During 2018, canopy closure increased by 20%. In addition, aboveground production of wood and leaves increased over 2017 from 2018–2020. Furthermore, natural regeneration has occurred annually and many of the seedlings are now approximately 1 m tall. In conclusion, hydrologic restoration of impounded wetlands in coastal Louisiana is an extremely cost-effective landscape restoration method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion)
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15 pages, 2017 KiB  
Article
Invasive Wild Pigs: A Significant Disturbance in Coastal Forests
by Elizabeth A. Bradley and Graeme Lockaby
Forests 2021, 12(8), 1042; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12081042 - 05 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3224
Abstract
Introduced in ~59 countries and native across Europe and Asia, wild pigs, Sus scrofa, are the most wide-spread swine species in the world. As ecosystem engineers, wild pigs are a significant source of disturbance in introduced ecosystems due to their numerous, complex [...] Read more.
Introduced in ~59 countries and native across Europe and Asia, wild pigs, Sus scrofa, are the most wide-spread swine species in the world. As ecosystem engineers, wild pigs are a significant source of disturbance in introduced ecosystems due to their numerous, complex impacts on ecosystem processes. Wild pigs are often found in the resource-rich habitat of coastal forests. Coastal forests are complex, dynamic systems with tremendous biodiversity. Exposed to recurrent disturbances, the biophysical characteristics of coastal forests contribute to their ability to return to their original state post-disturbance. However, compounding disturbances can weaken this ability and threaten the health and function of the ecosystem. In this review, through the model of the forests of the southeastern United States Coastal Plain, we (1) describe conditions found across the forested coastal landscape, (2) describe wild pig disturbance, and (3) discuss how wild pig impacts can add to significant anthropogenic and climate-related disturbances threatening coastal forests. Through this review, we find that the impacts of wild pig disturbance on coastal forests often have similar effects as anthropogenic and climate change-related disturbances that may enhance these significant threats to coastal forest function and resiliency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion)
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15 pages, 1845 KiB  
Article
An Analysis of Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) B.S.P.) Tree Rings as Indicators of Ghost Forest Development in a Globally Threatened Ecosystem
by James M. Doyle, Kendal E. Earley and Robert B. Atkinson
Forests 2021, 12(8), 973; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12080973 - 22 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3135
Abstract
Atlantic White Cedar (AWC) swamps are a globally threatened type of wetland ecosystem and are a new form of ghost forest in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Hydrogeomorphic regimes foster peat formation, resulting in unique biodiversity and carbon sequestration services. Our sites [...] Read more.
Atlantic White Cedar (AWC) swamps are a globally threatened type of wetland ecosystem and are a new form of ghost forest in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Hydrogeomorphic regimes foster peat formation, resulting in unique biodiversity and carbon sequestration services. Our sites include regimes that are exposed to sea-level rise and storm-driven seawater intrusion, yet other sites are protected by higher elevations. In this study, we evaluated climatic variables to discern differences in tree ring formation as an indicator of growth among nine stands including micro-tidal, oligohaline sites as well as other protected areas which served as a control. Standard dendrochronological techniques were used, and series were divided into two sub-chronologies, 1895 to 1971 (early) and 1972 to 2018 (recent). AWC growth in response to precipitation parameters, e.g., Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), were largely non-significant but were somewhat reversed among sub-chronologies. Early correlations were primarily negatively correlated with PDSI, while recent correlations were mostly positive, which suggests that even though inundation may reduce photosynthate availability for growth, precipitation has begun to increase growth by alleviating osmotic and toxic stresses associated with seawater. Analysis of climatic variables and tree growth at the reference site found that other anthropogenic stressors associated with ditching exert a greater influence. Hurricane impacts on tree growth exhibited no lasting negative effects; however, an AWC ghost forest report from New Jersey connected mortality to a hurricane. Hydrogeomorphic regimes may delay rather than eliminate risks associated with sea-level rise and storm-driven seawater. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Forest Dynamics and Coastline Erosion)
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