Vegetation surveys were conducted on a variety of coastal foredunes in a largely natural region along the Gulf County region of the Florida panhandle. Species presence, absence and percentage cover were surveyed on 12 foredune profiles during different seasons. The vegetation data were analyzed using the Shannon–Wiener Diversity Index and Sørensen Index. Uniola sp. and Andropgon sp. were the dominant species on foredunes. Uniola sp. was found predominantly on the gulfward facing or stoss slopes, and Andropgon sp. was found to be dominant on the inland or lee slopes of foredunes. While they are present on all foredunes, their presence and percentage cover are dominant on rapidly prograding coasts. Prograding/accretional beaches had higher Sørensen Index values (i.e. higher similarities) than did the foredune-vegetation profiles on eroding beaches. Diversity as indicated by the Shannon–Wiener analysis (H’) is greatest on the highest, and generally eroding dunes. Foredune diversity increased with foredune height, and the tallest foredunes were found on shorelines with relatively low erosion rates, where dunes were slowly translating landwards, cannibalizing older dunes, and moving into areas colonized by late successional species, such as Quercus sp. These observations of foredune species richness, diversity, profile similarities, and the use of ecological indices can provide excellent proxy evidence of shoreline dynamics, and in particular the degree of beach erosion and accretion, in the absence of historical erosion/accretion data. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.