Volume 20, 2020
Blowout Evolution Between 1999 and 2015 in Ainsdale Sand Dunes National Nature Reserve, England.
Thomas A.G. Smyth1&2, Ella Thorpe3 and Paul Rooney3
1Department of Biological and Geographical Sciences, School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield,
2Beach and Dune Systems (BEADS) Laboratory, School of the Environment, Flinders University, Adelaide,
3Liverpool Hope University, Department of Geography and Environmental Science.
Mobile coastal sand dunes are an important habitat for a range of species that require warm substrates and a diversity of habitat structures. The extent of bare sand on coastal dunes in the UK has, however, dramatically declined since 1945. As a result, the removal of vegetation has become a management tool to re-create mobile and dynamic habitats that are typically associated with the earlier stages of dune succession. Blowouts, erosional hollows in dunes, act as important natural mechanisms for landscape disturbance by interrupting succession and providing a source of nutrient deficient sediment, via aeolian (wind) sediment erosion and subsequent deposition. This study investigates the evolution of three blowouts within Ainsdale Sand Dunes Natural Nature Reserve, North West England, in a dunescape that had been cleared of Corsican Pine approximately 25 years prior. Our results demonstrate that, contrary to previous studies of blowout evolution in highly vegetated dune systems, continued blowout expansion and growth has continued for at least 15 years (2005 to present). We anticipate these findings to be a starting point for deeper analysis of coastal dune mobility in the UK and northwest Europe, in order to better understand the environmental drivers maintaining dynamism in these environments.