Does the Functional Richness of Plants Reduce Wave Erosion on Embryo Coastal Dunes? Academic Article uri icon


  • 2019, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation. Coastal erosion is a natural process, whose intensity and occurrence have increased due to natural and anthropogenic factors. To protect the coasts, the use of hard infrastructure is a widespread practice that can be effective, mostly at a local scale. However, recent evidence also shows that downstream erosion can be accelerated in adjacent zones. Because of this, natural barriers such as coastal dunes and their plant cover have gained attention, but there is a general lack of information about the role that different species (and combinations of species) play in coastal protection. The aim of this study was to explore if the functional richness of plant species helps reduce wave erosion on embryo coastal dunes. In a wave flume, we set up a 1:1 scale artificial dune covered with different combinations of plant species (Ipomoeae pes-caprae, Sesuvium portulacastrum, and Sporobolus virginicus) and exposed it to simulated storm waves. We found that erosion was reduced in dunes covered by plants, but such protection was species-specific and the effectiveness of protection varied over time. Ipomoea was the most effective specie for protection. Differences between species and combinations of species were associated with their physical attributes such as growth form and plant architecture. Although we found that there are species that offer little or no protection from hydrodynamic forces, they may still be important for coastal protection through their ability to build embryo dunes through eolian processes. Indeed, nature-based coastal protection is likely to be an effective alternative to engineered solutions at many sites, but the protection provided is species-specific.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Maximiliano-Cordova, C., Salgado, K., Luisa Martinez, M., Mendoza, E., Silva, R., Guevara, R., & Feagin, R. A.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Maximiliano-Cordova, Carmelo||Salgado, Karla||Luisa Martinez, M||Mendoza, Edgar||Silva, Rodolfo||Guevara, Roger||Feagin, Rusty A

publication date

  • November 2019