Predicting Barrier Island Habitats and Oyster and Seagrass Habitat Suitability for Various Restoration Measures and Future Conditions for Dauphin Island, Alabama

Open-File Report 2020-1003
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and in collaboration with the State of Alabama and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Edited by: Nicholas M. EnwrightHongqing WangP. Soupy Dalyander, and Elizabeth Godsey

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Abstract

Barrier islands, such as Dauphin Island, Alabama, provide numerous invaluable ecosystem services including storm damage reduction and erosion control to the mainland, habitat for fish and wildlife, carbon sequestration in marshes, water catchment and purification, recreation, and tourism. These islands are dynamic environments that are gradually shaped by currents, waves, and tides under quiescent conditions yet can evolve in the time scale of hours to days during hurricanes and other extreme storms. The ecosystems associated with these islands also face numerous other hazards, including accelerated sea-level rise, oil spills, and anthropogenic stressors.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 are two major events that have affected habitats and natural resources on Dauphin Island, Ala. The latter event prompted a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to investigate viable, sustainable restoration measures that reduce degradation and enhance the natural resources of Dauphin Island, Ala. In collaboration with the State of Alabama and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the overarching goal of the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Assessment project was to document baseline conditions and forecast potential conditions under varying sea-level change and storm scenarios for a no-action alternative along with a variety of restoration measures including beach and dune restoration, marsh and back-barrier restoration, and placement of sand in the littoral zone. The modeling component of this project used decadal hydrodynamic geomorphic, water quality, and habitat modeling to better understand how the various restoration measures may influence the habitat composition, sustainability, and resiliency of Dauphin Island under potential future conditions, benchmarked against the no-action case.

The report covers the habitat modeling efforts associated with the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Assessment project. For various potential future island configurations for Dauphin Island, we predicted coverage of habitat types (for example, beach, dune, intertidal marsh, and woody vegetation) using a spatially explicit habitat model based on landscape-position information (for example, elevation and distance from shore) extracted from the hydrodynamic geomorphic outputs. Similarly, we forecasted habitat suitability for oysters and seagrass using habitat suitability index models. Another component of the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Assessment project, presented separately, integrates these habitat model results into a structured decision-making framework that accounts for competing objectives. Collectively, this information provides insights to natural resource managers and planners on how a restoration measure may maintain or impede natural coastal processes and provide information critical for making future-focused decisions regarding barrier island restoration.

Suggested Citation

Enwright, N.M., Wang, H., Dalyander, P.S., and Godsey, E., eds., 2020, Predicting barrier island habitats and oyster and seagrass habitat suitability for various restoration measures and future conditions for Dauphin Island, Alabama: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1003, 99 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201003.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter A. Landscape-Position-Based Habitat Modeling for the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Assessment at Dauphin Island
  • Chapter B. Oyster Habitat Suitability Modeling for the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Assessment at Dauphin Island
  • Chapter C. Seagrass Habitat Suitability Modeling for the Alabama Barrier Island Restoration Feasibility Assessment at Dauphin Island

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Predicting barrier island habitats and oyster and seagrass habitat suitability for various restoration measures and future conditions for Dauphin Island, Alabama
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2020-1003
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201003
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description Report: x, 99 p.; 3 Data Releases
Country United States
State Alabama
Other Geospatial Dauphin Island
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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