Evaluating Barrier Island Characteristics and Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) Habitat Availability Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast—Geospatial Approaches and Methodology

Open-File Report 2019-1071
By: , and 



Policy makers, individuals from government agencies, and natural resource managers face increasing demands to manage coastal areas in a way that meets economic, social, and ecological needs as sea levels rise. Scientific knowledge of how coastal processes drive beach and barrier island changes and how those changes affect habitat use can support decision makers as they balance sometimes conflicting human and ecological needs. However, uncertainties in the knowledge of the cumulative results of coastal processes make it challenging to forecast specific changes for a particular location and time. The U.S. Geological Survey is developing tools for identifying and forecasting barrier island characteristics as well as suitable coastal habitats for species of concern (such as piping plovers, Charadrius melodus) given ongoing sea-level rise. As part of this effort, we use three Bayesian networks to calculate probabilities of shoreline change rates, changes in barrier island biogeomorphic characteristics, and piping plover habitat availability, which together forecast the effects of different sea-level-rise rates and storm regimes. This report details the methodology used to derive geospatial biogeomorphic datasets that are used as inputs for two of these Bayesian networks, which forecast barrier island geomorphology and piping plover habitat availability at sites along the U.S. Atlantic coast (Maine to North Carolina). Further information about the project, including specific study sites, can be found at https://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/beach-dependent-shorebirds/.

Suggested Citation

Zeigler, S.L., Sturdivant, E.J., and Gutierrez, B.T., 2019, Evaluating barrier island characteristics and piping plover (Charadrius melodus) habitat availability along the U.S. Atlantic coast—Geospatial approaches and methodology (ver. 1.1, October 2019): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1071, 34 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191071.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Initial Data Sources
  • Methods—Barrier Island Geomorphology Bayesian Network
  • Methods—Piping Plover Habitat Bayesian Network
  • Validation of Select Bayesian Network Datasets
  • Data Access and Metadata
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Evaluating barrier island characteristics and piping plover (Charadrius melodus) habitat availability along the U.S. Atlantic Coast—Geospatial approaches and methodology
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2019-1071
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191071
Edition Version 1.1: October 23, 2019; Version 1.0: July 25, 2019
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description Report: vii, 34 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia
Other Geospatial Mid-Atlantic Coast
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytics Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details