Decision science as a framework for combining geomorphological and ecological modeling for the management of coastal systems

Ecology and Society
By: , and 



The loss of ecosystem services due to climate change and coastal development is projected to have significant impacts on local economies and conservation of natural resources. Consequently, there has been an increase in coastal management activities such as living shorelines, oyster reef restoration, marsh restoration, beach and dune nourishment, and revegetation projects. Coastal management decisions are complex and include challenging trade-offs. Decision science offers a useful framework to address such complex problems. Here, we provide a synthesis about how decision science can help to integrate research from multiple disciplines (physical and life sciences) with management of coastal and marine systems. Specifically, we discuss the importance of considering concepts and techniques from ecology, coastal geology, geomorphology, climate science, oceanography, and decision analysis when developing conservation plans for coastal restoration. We illustrate the process with several coastal restoration studies. Our capstone example is based on a recent barrier island restoration assessment project at Dauphin Island, Alabama, which included the development of geomorphological and ecological models. We show how decision science can be used as a framework to combine geomorphological and ecological modeling to help inform management decisions while considering uncertainty about system changes and risk tolerance. We also build on our examples through a review of recently developed techniques for spatial conservation planning for land acquisition decisions and the application of adaptive management for sequential decisions.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Decision science as a framework for combining geomorphological and ecological modeling for the management of coastal systems
Series title Ecology and Society
DOI 10.5751/ES-13696-280150
Volume 28
Issue 1
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher The Resilience Alliance
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta, Southeast Climate Science Center, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Eastern Ecological Science Center
Description 50, 42 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Alabama
Other Geospatial Dauphin Island
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