Research ProjectNOAA Shorelines: Marine & Estuarine Ecology

  • Example of riprap land use

    Riprap Shoreline

  • Beach land use

    Beach Shoreline

  • Bulkhead shoreline

    Bulkhead Shoreline

  • Marsh shoreline

    Marsh Shoreline

Project Goal

To examine effects of land use and shoreline hardening on nearshore fish and shellfish in Chesapeake Bay



Our lab has conducted extensive sampling efforts and field experiments and has led an analysis of data from multiple partner agencies and universities to better understand how these changes in land use and shoreline structure affect nearshore fish, crab and jellyfish populations. Our results show that nearshore wetlands are associated with high abundances of many economically and ecologically important species, but that hardened shorelines—and sometimes extensive agriculture—are associated with reduced abundances. Shoreline hardening that uses stone riprap may also increase jellyfish populations by providing overwintering habitat for the small polyp stage that requires hard substrate for survival.

Diagram of land use and its impacts