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Environ Manage. 2016 Oct;58(4):682-93. doi: 10.1007/s00267-016-0735-x. Epub 2016 Jul 4.

Landscape Visual Quality and Meiofauna Biodiversity on Sandy Beaches.

Author information

1
Marine Science Laboratory, University of Southern Santa Catarina, Unisul, Av Acácio Moreira 787, Dehon, Tubarão, SC, 88704-900, Brazil.
2
Centro de Ciências Tecnológicas, da Terra e do Mar - CTTMar, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí Univali, Caixa Postal 360, Itajaí, SC, 88301-970, Brazil.
3
Marine Science Laboratory, University of Southern Santa Catarina, Unisul, Av Acácio Moreira 787, Dehon, Tubarão, SC, 88704-900, Brazil. sergio.netto@unisul.br.

Abstract

Sandy beaches are central economic assets, attracting more recreational users than other coastal ecosystems. However, urbanization and landscape modification can compromise both the functional integrity and the attractiveness of beach ecosystems. Our study aimed at investigating the relationship between sandy beach artificialization and the landscape perception by the users, and between sandy beach visual attractiveness and biodiversity. We conducted visual and biodiversity assessments of urbanized and semiurbanized sandy beaches in Brazil and Uruguay. We specifically examined meiofauna as an indicator of biodiversity. We hypothesized that urbanization of sandy beaches results in a higher number of landscape detractors that negatively affect user evaluation, and that lower-rated beach units support lower levels of biodiversity. We found that urbanized beach units were rated lower than semiurbanized units, indicating that visual quality was sensitive to human interventions. Our expectations regarding the relationship between landscape perception and biodiversity were only partially met; only few structural and functional descriptors of meiofauna assemblages differed among classes of visual quality. However, lower-rated beach units exhibited signs of lower environmental quality, indicated by higher oligochaete densities and significant differences in meiofauna structure. We conclude that managing sandy beaches needs to advance beyond assessment of aesthetic parameters to also include the structure and function of beach ecosystems. Use of such supporting tools for managing sandy beaches is particularly important in view of sea level rise and increasing coastal development.

KEYWORDS:

Artificial and natural landscapes; Beach quality; Coastal management; Landscape perception; Meiofauna

PMID:
27376939
DOI:
10.1007/s00267-016-0735-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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