Changed sediment composition prevents recovery of macrobenthic community four years after a shoreface nourishment at the Holland coast

Jeroen W.M. Wijsman*, Theo C. Prins, J.J.S. Moons, Peter M.J. Herman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sand nourishment is a widespread management strategy to protect sandy coasts against erosion. Nourishments can impact the benthic fauna directly by burial and indirectly by changing environmental conditions such as bottom shear stress and/or sediment composition (grain size distribution). The macrobenthic community in softbottom environments is often strongly correlated with sediment composition, however, because of the strong correlation with other environmental conditions, it is difficult to determine the direct effects of sediment composition on the macrobenthic community from field observations. Nourishments can temporarily break this correlation allowing to study the relation between sediment composition and macrobenthic community more or
less independent from other environmental factors. In 2017, a shoreface nourishment was constructed at the Holland coast near Callantsoog at a water depth of about 10 m. Because the influence of waves is limited at this
depth, the nourishment is not very mobile. Sediment composition and macrobenthos was monitored at the nourished site and two reference locations before (2015 and 2016), and in 2021, four years after nourishment. In
2021, the sediment composition at the nourished site was much coarser (median grain size 330 ± 59 μm) than in the years before nourishment (195 ± 34 μm), while the sediment composition at the reference locations remained comparable over the years. The average number of taxa per sample at the nourishment decreased from 14.1 before nourishment to 3.0 taxa in 2021. Also the average total density at the nourishment location decreased from 12731 ind.m− 2 before nourishment to 320 ind.m− 2 in 2021. While before nourishment, the composition of the macrobenthic community at the nourished site was comparable to the southern reference location, in 2021 the macrobenthic community was more comparable to the community at the coarser sediments
of the northern reference. Clearly, four years after the nourishment, the macrobenthic community has not recovered due to the presence of coarser sediments at the nourished site. Logistic regressions show that most of
the dominant species have a negative correlation with median grain size, but some species are more sensitive to changes in sediment composition than others. The sensitivity of the macrobenthos to sediment composition illustrates the importance of using sediments of similar grain size as in the placement area, especially for nourishments in the deeper parts of the shoreface.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108521
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


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