AbstractTheoretical evolution of a coastal dune system starts at the individual plant level with the formation of bedforms, nebkha and shadow dunes, around plants. Over time, these initial bedforms can evolve into a fully developed foredune and eventually a complex dune system capable of buffering upland coastal areas against high tides and storms. Recent studies suggest that dunebuilding plant species may differ in their sand trapping efficiency and they may support different topographies, building dunes morphologically similar to their own stature - i.e. a taller steeper plant would build a taller and steeper dune. We believe that the bedforms created at the onset of dune evolution, i.e. after a storm or at the backbeach, may carry over through the life of the dune, such that understanding how plant morphology and density affects the initial formation stages of dune morphology is key to optimizing dune management, maintenance, and creation. With ERDC and USGS funding, we built a removable bed unilateral flow wind tunnel to test how the morphology among and within dominant US East coast foredune plants feeds back on bedform creation around individual plants at a baseline of zero (i.e. flat back beach or post storm).
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