Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

California Beach Plant Biogeography: Biogeomorphology and Ecological Succession, Effects of Foot-Traffic Concentration, and Low-Altitude Aerial Photography
by Tobias, Michele Marie, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2012, 218; 3544812
Abstract (Summary)

The beach, the stretch of sand between high water line and the top of the foredune, is often inhabited by a unique community of plants on the California coast. This collection of work offers a suite of new information useful for managing beaches throughout the state. Data were collected at 17 beaches ranging from Redwood National Park in the north to Leo Carrillo State Park in the south. In chapter two, I developed a biogeomorphical model for ecological succession and foredune building for beach plants from the results of a cluster analysis of environmental variables and descriptions of successional roles from published literature. The cluster analysis produced five groups of plants that were consistent with published roles. The third chapter provides an assessment of species' responses to three management strategies of varying amounts of human foot-traffic (unrestricted access, fence exclosures, and no access) and quantifies the likelihood of occurrence with distance from a trail for several common beach species using the Huisman, Olff, and Fresco models. Species on fenced beaches are similar to beaches with no access, but beaches with unrestricted access are different. Plant distribution on unrestricted beaches is controlled by both the amount of shelter at a location and the influence of foot-traffic and on the beaches with little access is controlled by the amount of shelter alone. Fenced beaches are intermediate between. The fourth chapter offers new tools for monitoring beach ecosystems using a remotely controlled hobby hot air balloon to take low altitude aerial imagery. The resulting photos were useful for visual identification of plants. The classification algorithms I used were not able to distinguish individual species, but were able to separate plants from sand. The fifth chapter is my research journal for the five years I spent collecting data. It describes the current conditions at 63 beaches along the California coast. The results of these studies highlights a need for creating areas of less intense human use on California's beaches, potentially utilizing the symbolic fencing method that many managers use to protect nesting bird habitat.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Elliott-Fisk, Deborah L.
Commitee: Barbour, Michael G., Ustin, Susan L.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ecology, Geography, Geographic information science, Environmental management
Keywords: Balloon aerial photography, Beaches, Biogeography, Biogeomorphology, Coast, Foot traffic, Foot-traffic
Publication Number: 3544812
ISBN: 9781267760166
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