Wind tunnel tests inform Ammophila planting spacing for dune management

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  1. Brenda B Casper

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Description: Coastal dunes are invaluable natural resources that bu er upland areas. Vegetation is key in dune development and stabilization. Dunes form with sufficient wind, sand source, and obstruction; plants are the ideal obstruction. Storms o en erode foredunes and coastal managers replant vegetation to re-establish the necessary obstruction for sand accretion and dune growth. We used a wind tunnel to examine the effect of planting density on bedform formation under constant 18.5 mph (8.25 m/s) winds for 30 min. We filled 1m x 1m x .3 m deep boxes with sand and then planted Ammophila breviligulata plugs in two densities commonly used in management, 12 inches (30.5 cm) and 18 inches (45.7 cm) on center. Sand was supplied by a downwind 1-inch sand bed to mimic backshore transport. We measured the morphology of each plant and used a 3D sensor to record the topography of the bedforms that formed in association with each plant. e bedforms did not vary in volume or basal area as a function of planting density, but biomass was a significant predictor of volume, with larger plants producing larger bedforms. We observed all accretionary bedforms in our low-density treatment, but both erosion and accretion in the high-density treatments potentially due to an inaccurate measure of pre-experiment base height or interactions among neighbors causing greater turbulent kinetic energy with tighter spacing. Bedform height, accretionary or erosive, did not vary by density, row, plant width, or biomass. The bedform shape, measured as the length to width ratio did vary by density; plants in the low-density treatment, despite being morphologically the same, produced bedforms with longer tails. These differences are likely a function of wind back ow and plant interaction interrupting ow, both of which are reduced with a lower planting density. The bedforms created at the onset of planting are thought to carry over through the life of the dune, such that understanding how density affects bedform shape should be considered when making management decisions.

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