Background information and definitions
Beach restoration may include vegetation management or removal of debris to maximise nesting site availability and access for reptiles. The process of dune re-mobilization is one commonly used management technique, though data is often insufficient for evaluating the impact of this intervention on reptile populations (e.g. Hill et al. 2018).
Studies that discuss physical rebuilding of beaches, for example by bringing sand to replenish a beach (‘beach nourishment’) are discussed in Threat: Natural system modifications – Restore or maintain beaches (‘beach nourishment’). Studies that discuss beach stabilization to protect against severe weather are discussed in Threat: Natural system modifications – Armour shorelines to prevent erosion.
See also: Restore island ecosystems.
Hill P., Moulton N. & Foster J. (2018) Sand lizard surveys at Newborough Warren NNR and sand dune habitat management guidance. Natural Resources Wales report 302.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A controlled, before-and-after study in 2011–2014 on a beach in north-west Florida, USA (Fujisaki & Lamont 2016) found that restoring a beach by removing debris (man-made and natural) increased both the percentage of total loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta nests laid and failed nesting attempts in the restored section, and that nesting success remained similar when debris was left in place. The percentage of total nests that were laid in the beach section cleared of debris increased after removal (27 of 84 nests, 32%) compared to before (9 of 74 nests, 12%), whereas the percentage of total nests laid in the two no-removal sections decreased in one case (after: 15%; before: 32%) and stayed the same in the other (after: 52%; before: 58%). The percentage of failed nesting attempts (‘false crawls’) in the beach section cleared of debris also increased after removal (45 of 131 crawls, 34%) compared to before (29 of 170 crawls, 17%), and decreased in the two no-removal sections (after: 15–50%; before: 25–58%). Nest success rate was similar after debris removal (after: 38% success; before: 24% success). The beach (5.7 km total length) was divided into three sections that initially had natural debris only (1.3 km long); man-made and natural debris (1.7 km long, ‘middle’); or comparatively little debris (2.7 km long). All man-made (concrete, pipes, metal fencing) and natural (fallen trees and stumps due to erosion of an adjacent pine forest) debris were recorded (June–December 2012) and removed from the middle section only in December 2012. Nesting activity was monitored on all three beach sections daily in May–September 2011–2014 (two years before and after removal).Study and other actions tested