Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Julie Zinnert


Coastal dune vegetation plays a key role in dune formation and stabilization through sediment trapping and erosion control. To restore degraded dunes, revegetation of dune building species is critical. Planting density has been found to effect growth of marsh species, with closer plantings alleviating stress through facilitation. As coastal dunes are high stress environments, it is expected that dune species may also exhibit facilitative interactions based on the Stress Gradient Hypothesis. Therefore, planting grasses in clumped configurations may lead to more successful dune revegetation. The objective of this research was to determine how planting density affects the growth of two dominant dune grasses along the US Atlantic coast, Ammophila breviligulata and Uniola paniculata, through field surveys of natural distribution, density, and a manipulation study of planting densities. Natural distribution differed between the two species with A. breviligulata occurring at lower dunes and U. paniculata occurring at higher dunes. Ammophila breviligulata occurred more densely than U. paniculata. Planting density of U. paniculata had an effect on growth parameters (shoot length, stem number, and ramet number) but not survival with dispersed plantings (50 cm apart) having higher growth than clumped plantings. The effect of density planting on growth parameters may impact dune building processes. Sparsely planted U. paniculata may have greater sediment capture compared to densely planted U. paniculata due to greater stem number and biomass resulting in taller, steeper dunes.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission



View graphic version