Removal of shoreline armoring can potentially restore lost biological functions to intertidal beaches and increase connectivity between aquatic and terrestrial realms. Conceptual models are needed, as ecologists, managers, and engineers are all concerned with finding ways to restore natural aspects to shoreline features that are stable and resilient in the face of global climate change and sea level rise. We identify the main effects of armoring on shoreline biota, examine the ecological response of a restored site where a seawall was removed, and use this to form a conceptual basis for the importance of elevation on armoring effects and restoration potential. Restoration completed in February 2005 at Seahurst Park (Puget Sound, Washington, United States) included seawall removal and creation of a beach. We monitored the site over seven years before and after restoration and compared invertebrate assemblages to a reference beach, spanning four elevations. We present a conceptual model illustrating that biotic assemblages at higher elevations directly affected by shoreline armoring can respond rapidly to restoration, while those at lower elevations may recover slowly or be adversely impacted. Understanding these concepts can improve our ability to maintain ecologically diverse shorelines while still providing coastal protection for people and property.
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Vol. 88 • No. 4