Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Journal of Applied Ecology



First Page


Last Page



As natural marshes are lost to erosion, sea level rise, and human activity, small created marshes, (sometimes with ancillary stabilization structures, and frequently called living shorelines) have gained interest as a replacement habitat; providing both shoreline stabilization and restoration of important ecological functions. These living shorelines enhance ecological function while reducing erosion through the use of marsh plants (Table 1). In all but the lowest energy settings, oyster reefs, low rock structures, or other stabilizing material are frequently used to enhance marsh establishment. Due to their ability to stabilize the shoreline with minimal impact to the ecology, living shorelines are considered a method to increase coastal community resilience to sea level rise (e.g., Sutton- Grier, Wowk, & Bamford, 2015; Van Slobbe et al., 2013) but little consideration is being given to living shoreline resilience under changing climate. Although it has been stated that living shorelines have the capacity to adapt to rising sea levels (e.g., Moosavi, 2017; Sutton- Grier etal., 2015; Toft, Bilkovic, Mitchell, & La Peyre, 2017), their ability to fulfill this potential relies on being designed to incorporate all the processes occurring in natural systems. The extent to which living shorelines can mimic the resiliency of natural marshes and oyster reefs will depend on their setting, design and the type of human maintenance provided. Truly resilient projects will require engineers and ecologists to work together to describe the dynamics of shore line processes under sea level rise and translate this understanding into living shoreline design




climate change, coastal resilience, defenses, erosion, green infrastructure, marsh, nature-based, sea level riseThis