Main research question/goal
What are the long-term effects of sand suppletion on the present benthic fauna and the marine ecosystem? This research question is investigated by a study on foreshore beach nourishment at the Dutch Wadden Island Ameland. Through beach and foreshore replenishment, the Dutch sandy coast is 'naturally' protected against coastal erosion, while the coastal zone itself offers more space for various users. In 2010 and 2011, large scale nourishments were undertaken in Ameland, respectively on the beach (twice 2 Mm³) and on the foreshore (4.7 million m³ of sand). In this study, we assess the impact on the epibenthos and juvenile demersal fish fauna two years after suppletion.Research approach
In autumn, two years after the last nourishment, beam trawl samples are being collected in the shallow coastal zone along a depth gradient (offshore - beach) on 6 transects in the impact zone (Ameland) and in a reference area (Schiermonnikoog). The ecological patterns in density, diversity and length-frequency of the epibenthos and juvenile demersal fish are analysed, and linked to the measured abiotic environmental variables. The use of a BACI (Before / After - Control / Impact) design allows for the determination of any changes – as a result of the beach and foreshore replenishment – in the benthic ecology in the impact area compared to the T0 situation or the reference area.Relevance/Valorisation
The ecological functioning of the Dutch beach and surf zone as parts of the coastal foundation is not fully understood yet. This research provides objective scientific answers in the debate on the potential impact of sand suppletion on the nature values of the Wadden Sea. This study helps to clarify how sand replenishment can contribute to a 'natural' coastal protection in coherence with nature conservation and nature development.
The Field Working Company