How bottom-up and top-down controls shape dune topographic variability along the U.S. Virginia barrier island coast and the inference of dune dynamical properties

J. Anthony Stallins, Li Chih Hsu, Julie C. Zinnert, Joe K. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

When topography is incorporated into models of barrier dune dynamical states, how it is represented determines the dynamical properties inferred. Bottom-up representations rely on elevation and localized biogeomorphic modification. Top-down representations incorporate constraints imposed by the spatial patterns of topography. These spatial patterns emerge from island morphological context and the extent localized biogeomorphic processes can expand and structure the larger landscape. We compared topographies across 30 sites among seven barrier islands of the Virginia (U.S.A) coast to gauge the importance of elevation, the bottom-up variable often weighted most in dune biogeomorphic models, relative to top-down patch and continuous surface landscape representations of topography. LiDAR-derived digital elevation models of each site were characterized with non-metric multidimensional scaling to assess how these bottom-up and top-down metrics structured dune topographic variability. Multiple response permutation procedures gauged the strength of topographic differences among sites grouped according to island morphology versus groupings defined by clustering of topographic metrics. Elevation was the dominant metric structuring topography for these low relief islands. Spatial structure was weakly developed. Topographic differences were more robust when based on clusters defined largely by elevational properties rather than by island or island morphological type. For the Virginia barrier islands, storm inputs may more directly shape topography and override landscape-extent top-down spatial structure. The dominance of elevation suggests that resistance may be the more relevant dynamical property for this coast. Properties like resilience may be greater on higher islands with longer storm-free intervals in which biogeomorphic elements can configure relief and act as recursive top-down controls.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.

Keywords

  • Barrier islands
  • Biogeomorphology
  • Disturbance
  • Dune topography
  • Resilience
  • Resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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