Dr. Linda Walters


Living shoreline stabilization is a restoration technique that utilizes natural materials as breakwaters, plus vegetation landward of the breakwaters, to protect coastlines. This research does not provide information about how new, biodegradable restoration materials affect vertebrates that utilize these shorelines. For this project, I monitored 18 restoration sites along Canaveral National Seashore with wildlife trail cameras: 3 made with cement-infused jute breakwaters, 3 with metal gabion oyster shell breakwaters, and 4 with previously used breakwaters manufactured from plastic mesh oyster shell bags. This project used 4 sites as positive controls (intact vegetation) and 4 as negative controls (highly eroded, no vegetation). Wildlife cameras were used to continuously observe vertebrates for 1-month intervals, pre- and post-stabilization. I observed and recorded a total of 1,044 vertebrates (993 mammals, 51 birds), representing 15 species. The most abundant of these species was Procyon lotor (North American raccoon), and the least abundant was Anas platyrhynchos (mallard duck). The most common behavior among all recorded species was foraging and the least common was swimming. There were 3 observed vertebrate species utilizing restoration materials as a perch for stalking prey, suggesting that the presence of such material did not inhibit their behaviors. These vertebrates damaged neither the restoration materials nor plants deployed behind the breakwaters. Thus, there were no recorded observations of negative vertebrate interactions with these materials. However, all species had fewer post-restoration observations at all control sites.

About the Author

Katherine Guise is a Junior at the University of Central Florida studying Medical Laboratory Sciences and minoring in biology and biomedical sciences. She is passionate about marine science, and has conducted research with the UCF Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Laboratory. She hopes to graduate with honors and attend graduate school with a focus on microbial life.

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