Dr. Linda Walters


Living shoreline stabilization is a technique that utilizes plants and other natural elements to protect estuarine coasts. Research has provided minimal information about which vertebrate species utilize living shorelines post-deployment. For this project, ten wildlife cameras were placed along a living shoreline site in Canaveral National Seashore (CANA) to document which vertebrate species utilize the living shoreline and surrounding vegetation. This shoreline was stabilized with red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) and eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) shell bags in June 2019. The cameras, activated by motion sensors, remained at the site for five days a month for seven months (September 2019 - March 2020) to identify vertebrates and their behaviors. Wildlife camera footage provided data on which vertebrate species visited the site, what behaviors were exhibited, and what impact (if any) the vertebrate species had on the stabilization materials. Birds (i.e., wading birds and songbirds) and mammals (i.e., raccoons, feral hogs, deer, opossums, rats, and bobcats) were observed (total n=1,608). The North American raccoon (Procyon lotor; n=799) and the feral hog (Sus scrofa; n=523) were the most abundant vertebrates. Solitary foraging was the most observed behavior (n=552) among all vertebrate species, followed by group foraging (n=518). Both individuals and groups of P. lotor (n=9 for mangroves; n=38 for shell bags) and S. scrofa (n=6 for mangroves; n=0 for shell bags) contacted the stabilization materials. No consumption or dislodgment of stabilization materials by any species was observed. Results indicate that living shorelines provide habitat for many vertebrates (25 unique species) and these species do not negatively impact stabilization materials less than one-year post-deployment.

About the Author

Julia Rifenberg is an undergraduate honors student at the University of Central and will be graduating in Spring 2021 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology. Upon graduation, Julia plans to become a Registered Behavior Technician. In the future, Julia hopes to attend graduate school to earn a degree in Psychology. Julia's passions include psychology, animals, wildlife, and the environment. Jason Litwak graduated from the University of Central Florida in Fall 2020 with a marine biology degree and plans to continue marine biology in graduate school. Jason hopes to conduct coral reef research in graduate school. Julia and Jason have been active members of Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Laboratory since 2018. Rebecca Fillyaw is a third-year graduate student, pursuing her Masters of Science in the Department of Biology at the University of Central Florida. She has been a member of the Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Lab for four years, assisting with mangrove and oyster restoration and research projects. Her thesis pertains to improving the success of mangrove living shorelines deployed in shallow water, subtropical estuaries.



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