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We tested the hypothesis that mangroves provide better coastal protection than salt marsh vegetation using 10 1,008-m2 plots in which we manipulated mangrove cover from 0 to 100%. Hurricane Harvey passed over the plots in 2017. Data from erosion stakes indicated up to 26 cm of vertical and 970 cm of horizontal erosion over 70 months in the plot with 0% mangrove cover, but relatively little erosion in other plots. The hurricane did not increase erosion, and erosion decreased after the hurricane passed. Data from drone images indicated 196 m2 of erosion in the 0% mangrove plot, relatively little erosion in other plots, and little ongoing erosion after the hurricane. Transects through the plots indicated that the levee (near the front of the plot) and the bank (the front edge of the plot) retreated up to 9 m as a continuous function of decreasing mangrove cover. Soil strength was greater in areas vegetated with mangroves than in areas vegetated by marsh plants, or nonvegetated areas, and increased as a function of plot-level mangrove cover. Mangroves prevented erosion better than marsh plants did, but this service was nonlinear, with low mangrove cover providing most of the benefits.
Pennings, Steven C.; Glazner, Rachael M.; Hughes, Zoe J.; Kominoski, John S.; and Armitage, Anna R., "Effects of mangrove cover on coastal erosion during a hurricane in Texas, USA" (2021). All Faculty. 409.