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Keywords:

  • amphipods;
  • beyond BACI;
  • impact;
  • nourishment;
  • recovery;
  • sandy beaches

Abstract

Beach nourishment is increasingly being implemented to address problems of erosion. However, the ecological consequences of nourishment are poorly understood, especially in Australia. In Botany Bay, sand was piped from an intertidal borrow area at Elephant’s Trunk to nourish the nearby eroding beach at Towra Point. The effects on an intertidal exoedicerotid amphipod, Exoediceros fossor (Stimpson, 1856), were examined using a beyond-BACI (Before–After, Control–Impact) sampling design. Sampling was conducted before and after engineering operations at sites within the borrow and nourishment locations and multiple control locations. Hypotheses concerning impact and recovery were tested using asymmetrical ANOVAs and two-tailed F-tests. These examined the effects on abundance and spatial variability, respectively. The impact of the engineering operations on abundance was very large at both borrow and nourishment locations. However, recovery started within several weeks and, using space × time interactions as a criterion, appeared to be complete within a year. This conclusion is made cautiously because of low statistical power and because other criteria for recovery suggest that it was not complete at some sites. As beach erosion is likely to increase in severity with rising sea levels and greater storm surges associated with climate change, management authorities will need a better understanding of the ecological effects of beach nourishment.