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Are Living Shorelines Good for Fish?

Living shoreline in Deltaville, VA

A 3-year-old living shoreline has lots of mature grasses that help stabilize the soil and create habitat for critters. ©Margaret Pizer/VASG

Living shorelines use grasses instead of rocks to control coastal erosion, but are they big enough to provide habitat for salt marsh fishes as well? Jessica Thompson of Christopher Newport University will work with a team of four undergraduate researchers to measure the effects of living shorelines on populations of mummichog, a small fish that is preyed upon by important commercial fish such as striped bass and blue crab. Through monthly sampling of mummichog in sites with and without living shorelines, Thompson will find clues as to whether the width of a living shoreline could influence population size and survival of this ecologically important fish. Findings will be distributed through VIMS Center for Coastal Resource Management, which provides technical assistance to shoreline managers at the state and local level.

Funded through Virginia Sea Grant Program Development Fund.

Project details: Jessica Thompson (Christopher Newport University). Effects of Salt Marsh Width and Bathymetry on Population Dynamics of Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) in Natural and Restored Fringe Marshes of the Chesapeake Bay.