• J. Patrick Doody
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 4)


Sand dunes exist in a wide range of locations around the world. This book is largely concerned with coastal sand dunes that have had contact with the sea in the Holocene. The term Holocene literally means “completely recent”. It refers to the present geological era. It marks the end of the Pleistocene (period of the Ice Ages) and begins around 12,000 years ago. It is marked by a climatic warming phase, with rapidly rising sea levels and is the latest interstadial (warm period between glaciations) which last approximately 1.5 million years. It also concentrates on those sand dunes developed in temperate regions, mostly from the northern hemisphere. This chapter introduces the habitat, its origins, geomorphologic development and vegetation. Using the physical condition as a backdrop, it discusses sand dunes from an ecological point of view. In particular, it describes primary succession and subsequent development above upper beach levels, into what is essentially a terrestrial environment.


Sand Dune Coastal Dune Barrier Island Dune System Medieval Warm Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Acosta A, Ercole S, Stanisci A, De Patta Pillar V, Blasi C (2007) Coastal vegetation zonation and dune morphology in some Mediterranean ecosystems. J Coast Res 23(6):1518–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagnold RA (1954) The physics of blown sand and desert dunes, 2nd edn. Methuen, London, 265 ppGoogle Scholar
  3. Baldwin KA, Maun MA (1983) Microenvironment of Lake Huron sand dunes. Can J Bot 61:241–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bever JD, Schultz PA, Pringle A, Morton JB (2001) Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: more diverse than meets the eye, and the ecological tale of why. Bioscience 51(11):923–931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bird ECF (1961) The coastal barriers of East Gippsland, Australia. Geogr J 127(4):460–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bird ECF (1996) Beach management. Wiley, Chichester, 281 ppGoogle Scholar
  7. Bird E (2008) Coastal geomorphology: an introduction, 2nd edn. Wiley, Chichester, 320 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Bird ECF (ed) (2010) Encyclopaedia of the world’s coastal landforms. Springer, Dordrecht/Heidelberg/London/New York, 1495 ppGoogle Scholar
  9. Caldas FB, Honrado JJ (2001) Flora and vegetation of the Atlantic dunes of the northwest coast of Portugal. In: Houston JA, Edmondson SE, Rooney PJ (eds) Coastal dune management, shared experience of European conservation practice. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, pp 337–342Google Scholar
  10. Carter RWG (1989) Coastal environments. An introduction to the physical, ecological and cultural systems of coastlines. Academic, London, 617 ppGoogle Scholar
  11. Castillo S, Popma J, Moreno-Casasola P (1991) Coastal sand dune vegetation of Tabasco and Campeche, Mexico. J Veg Sci 2(1):73–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark PJ (1994) Coastal dune vegetation. In: Groves RH (ed) Australian vegetation, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 501–522Google Scholar
  13. Clarke ML, Rendell HM (2006) Effects of storminess, sand supply and the North Atlantic Oscillation on sand invasion and coastal dune accretion in western Portugal. Holocene 16(3):341–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clarke ML, Rendell HM (2010) Atlantic storminess and historical sand drift in Western Europe: implications for future management of coastal dunes. J Coast Conserv 15(1):227–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clarke M, Rendell H, Tastet J-P, Clave´ B, Masse´ L (2002) Late-Holocene sand invasion and north Atlantic storminess along the Aquitaine Coast, southwest France. Holocene 12:231–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clemmensen LB, Pedersen K, Murray A, Heinemeier J (2006) A 7000-year record of coastal evolution, Vejers, SW Jutland, Denmark. Bull Geol Soc Den 53:1–22Google Scholar
  17. Cooper WS (1958) Coastal sand dunes of Oregon and Washington, vol 72, Memoir. The Geological Society of America, New York, 169 ppGoogle Scholar
  18. Davy AJ, Grootjans AP, Hiscock K, Peterson J (2006) Development of eco-hydrological guidelines for dune habitats – phase 1. English Nature Research reports no 696, Peterborough. Accessed 14 Aug 2012
  19. Dawson S, Smith DE, Jordan J, Dawson AG (2004) Late Holocene coastal sand movements in the Outer Hebrides, N.W. Scotland. Mar Geol 210(1–4):281–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. de la Vega Leinert AC, Keen DH, Jones RL, Wells JM, Smith DE (2000) Mid-Holocene environmental changes in the Bay of Skaill, mainland Orkney, Scotland: an integrated geomorphological, sedimentological and stratigraphical study. J Quat Sci 15(5):509–528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. de Villiers M, Hirtle S (2006) Sable island: the strange origins and curious history of a dune adrift in the Atlantic. Walker and Company, New York, 276 ppGoogle Scholar
  22. Delaney C, Devoy R (1995) Evidence from sites in western Ireland of late Holocene changes in coastal environments. Mar Geol 124:273–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dias JMA, Boski T, Rodrigues A, Magalhaes F (2000) Coastline evolution in Portugal since the Last Glacial Maximum until present – a synthesis. Mar Geol 170:177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Doing H (1995) Landscape ecology of the Dutch coast. J Coast Conserv 1:145–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Doody JP (ed) (2008) Sand dune inventory of Europe, 2nd edn. National Coastal Consultants/EUCC, the Coastal Union, in collaboration with the IGU Coastal Commission. Published on CDROM, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, 126 ppGoogle Scholar
  26. Ellenberg H, Strutt GK (1988) Vegetation ecology of Central Europe, 4th edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 731 ppGoogle Scholar
  27. European Commission (2007) Interpretation manual of European habitats. Natura 2000. European Commission, DG Environment, Nature and Biodiversity, Brussels. Source: Accessed 4 Apr 2011
  28. Gay SPJnr (2005) Blowing sand and surface winds in the Pisco to Chala Area, Southern Peru. J Arid Environ 61(1):101–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gilbertson DD, Schwenninger JL, Kemp RA, Rhodes EJ (1999) Sand-drift and soil formation along an exposed North Atlantic coastline: 14,000 years of diverse geomorphological, climatic and human impacts. J Archaeol Sci 26:439–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Grove AT, Rackham O (2001) The nature of the Mediterranean Europe: an ecological history. Yale University Press, New Haven/London, 384 ppGoogle Scholar
  31. Haslett SK, Davies P, Curr RHF (2000) Geomorphologic and palaeoenvironmental development of Holocene perched coastal dune systems in Brittany, France. Geogr Ann Ser A Phys Geogr 82(1):79–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Havholm KG, Ames DV, Whittecar GR, Wenell BA, Riggs SR, Jol HM, Berger GW, Holmes MA (2004) Stratigraphy of back-barrier coastal dunes, northern North Carolina and southern Virginia. J Coast Res 20(4):980–999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hellemaa P (1998) The development of coastal dunes and their vegetation in Finland. Fennia 176(1):1–157. Source: Accessed 4 Apr 2011
  34. Hesp PA (2004) Coastal dunes in the tropics and temperate regions: location, formation, morphology and vegetation processes. In: Martínez M, Psuty NP (eds) Coastal dunes: ecology and conservation, vol 171, Ecological studies. Springer, Berlin, pp 29–49Google Scholar
  35. Hilton M, Macauley U, Henderson R (2000) Inventory of New Zealand’s active dunelands. Sci Conserv 157:30. Source: Accessed 4 Jan 2011
  36. Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, van der Linden PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New York, 881 ppGoogle Scholar
  37. Illenberger WK, Burkinshaw JR (2008) Coastal dunes and dunefields. In: Lewis CA (ed) Geomorphology of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. NISC, Grahamstown, pp 85–106Google Scholar
  38. Issar AS (2003) Climate changes during the Holocene and their impact on Hydrological systems, International hydrology series. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 144 ppCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jones PS (2008) Aspects of the population biology of Liparis loeselii (L.) Rich. var. ovata Ridd. ex Godfery (Orchidaceae) in the dune slacks of South Wales, UK. Bot J Linn Soc 126(1–2):123–139Google Scholar
  40. Ketner-Oostra R, Sýkora KV (2004) Decline of lichen-diversity in calcium-poor coastal dune vegetation since the 1970s, related to grass and moss encroachment. Phytocoenologia 34:521–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Klijn JA (1990) The younger dunes in the Netherlands: chronology and causation. In: Bakker T, Jungerius P, Klijn JA (eds) Dunes of the European coasts, geomorphology-hydrology-soils, vol 18, Catena supplement., pp 89–100Google Scholar
  42. Kutiel P (2001) Conservation and management of the mediterranean coastal sand dunes in Israel. J Coast Conserv 7(2):183–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. La Cock GD, Lubke RA, Wilken M (1992) Dune movement in the Kwaaihoek region of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and its bearing on future developments of the region. J Coast Res 8(1):210–217Google Scholar
  44. Lamb HH (1995) Climate history and the modern world, 2nd edn. Routledge, London, 433 ppGoogle Scholar
  45. Lamb HH, Frydendahl K (1991) Historic storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 228 ppGoogle Scholar
  46. Lancaster N (1988) Development of linear dunes in the southwestern Kalahari, Southern Africa. J Arid Environ 14:233–244Google Scholar
  47. Lubke RA (2004) Vegetation dynamics and succession on sand dunes of the eastern coasts of Africa. In: Martínez M, Psuty NP (eds) Coastal dunes: ecology and conservation, vol 171, Ecological studies. Springer, Berlin, pp 67–84Google Scholar
  48. Madole RF, Romig JH, Aleinikoff JN, VanSistine DP, Yacob EY (2008) On the origin and age of the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado. Geomorphology 99:99–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Martinez ML, Psuty NP (eds) (2004) Coastal dunes – ecology and conservation, vol 171, Ecological studies. Springer, Berlin, 386 ppGoogle Scholar
  50. Maun MA (1998) Adaptations of plants to burial in coastal sand dunes. Can J Bot 76(5):713–738Google Scholar
  51. Maun MA (2004) Burial of plants as a selective force in sand dunes. In: Martínez ML, Psuty NP (eds) Coastal dunes: ecology and conservation, vol 171, Ecological studies. Springer, Berlin, pp 119–135Google Scholar
  52. Maun MA (2009) The biology of coastal sand dunes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 265 ppGoogle Scholar
  53. McLachlan A (1991) Ecology of coastal dune fauna. J Arid Environ 21:229–243Google Scholar
  54. Moreno-Casasola P, Espejel I (1986) Classification and ordination of coastal sand dune vegetation along the Gulf and Caribbean Sea of Mexico. J Plant Ecol 66(3):147–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Orford JD, Wilson P, Wintle AG, Knight J, Braley S (2000) Holocenecoastal dune initiation in Northumberland and Norfolk, eastern UK: climate and sea-level changes as possible forcing agents for dune initiation. In: Shennan I, Andrews J (eds) Holocene land-ocean interaction and environmental change around the North Sea, vol 166, Special publications. Geological Society, London, pp 197–217Google Scholar
  56. Partridge TR (1992) The sand dune and beach vegetation inventory of New Zealand. I. North Island. DSIR Land Resources Scientific report no 15. DSIR Land Resources, Christchurch, p 250Google Scholar
  57. Peterson CD, Stock E, Price DM, Hart R, Reckendorf F, Erlandson JM, Hostetler SW (2007) Ages, distributions, and origins of upland coastal dune sheets in Oregon, USA. Geomorphology 91:80–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pilkey OH, Pilkey-Jarvis L (2007) Useless arithmetic – why environmental scientists can’t predict the future. Columbia University Press, New York, 230 ppGoogle Scholar
  59. Polunin O, Walters M (1985) A guide to the vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 368 ppGoogle Scholar
  60. Prøsch-Danielsen L, Selsing L (2011) Aeolian activity during the last 9200 calendar years BP along the southwestern coastal rim of Norway. Norsk Geologisk Forening. Source: Accessed 3 Apr 2012
  61. Provoost S, Jones LML, Edmondson SE (2009) Changes in landscape and vegetation of coastal dunes in northwest Europe: a review. J Coast Conserv 15(1):207–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Psuty NP (2004) The coastal foredune: a morphological basis for regional coastal dune development. In: Martínez M, Psuty NP (eds) Coastal dunes: ecology and conservation, vol 171, Ecological studies. Springer, Berlin, pp 11–27Google Scholar
  63. Psuty NP, Silveira TM (2010) Global climate change: an opportunity for coastal dunes? J Coast Conserv 14(2):153–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pye K, Tsoar H (1990) Aeolian sand and sand dunes. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, 458 ppGoogle Scholar
  65. Pye K, Saye S, Blott S (2007) Sand dune processes and management for flood and coastal defence. Part 2: sand dune processes and morphology. DEFRA R&D technical report FD1392/TR. Source: Accessed 4 Apr 2011
  66. Ranwell DS (1959) Newborough Warren, Anglesey. 1. The dune system and dune slack habitat. J Ecol 47:571–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ranwell DS (1972) Ecology of salt marshes and sand dunes. Chapman and Hall, London, 258 ppGoogle Scholar
  68. Ranwell DS, Boar R (1986) Coast dune management guide. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, HMSO, London, 105 ppGoogle Scholar
  69. Rhind P, Stevens D, Sanderson R (2006) A review and floristic analysis of lichen-rich grey dune vegetation in Britain. Biol Environ Proc R Acad 106B(3):301–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rodwell JS (ed) (2000) British plant communities. Volume 5, maritime communities and vegetation of open habitats. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 512 ppGoogle Scholar
  71. Rosati JD (2005) Concepts in sediment budgets. J Coast Res 21(2):307–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Ross S (1992) The Culbin sands – fact and fiction. Centre for Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, 196 ppGoogle Scholar
  73. Roxburgh SH, Wilson JB, Gitay H, King WMcG (1994) Dune slack vegetation in southern New Zealand. N Z J Ecol 18(1):51–64Google Scholar
  74. Salisbury E (1952) Downs and dunes, their plant life and its environment. G. Bell and Sons, London, 328 ppGoogle Scholar
  75. Seely M (1992) The Namib: natural history of an ancient desert, 2nd edn. Shell Namibia, Windhoek, 104 ppGoogle Scholar
  76. Sherman DJ, Nordstrom KF (1994) Hazards of wind-blown sand and coastal drift sands: a review. In: Finkl CW (ed) Coastal hazards: perception susceptibility and mitigation. J Coast Res 12:263–275Google Scholar
  77. Short AD (1988) Holocene coastal dune formation in southern Australia: a case study. Sediment Geol 55(1–2):121–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Short AD (2005a) Beaches of the Western Australian coast: eucla to Roebuck Bay: a guide to their nature, characteristics, surf and safety. Sydney University Press, Sydney, 433 pp. (This is one of a seven book series entitled “Beaches of the Australian Coast” published by Sydney University Press.
  79. Short AD (2005b) Sandy coasts. In: Schwartz ML (ed) Encyclopaedia of coastal science. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 821–825Google Scholar
  80. Smith PH (1999) The sands of time – an introduction to the sand dunes of the Sefton Coast. National Museum and Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool, 196 ppGoogle Scholar
  81. Steers JA (1969) The coastline of England and Wales, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 762 ppGoogle Scholar
  82. Sun J, Liu T (2006) The age of the Taklimakan desert. Science 312/5780:1621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Sykes MT, Wilson JB (1991) Vegetation of a coastal sand dune system in southern New Zealand. J Veg Sci 2(4):531–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sýkora KV, Babalonas D, Papastergiadou ES (2003) Strandline and sand dune vegetation of coasts of Greece and some other Aegean countries. Phytocoenologia 33(2–3):409–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Sýkora KV, van den Bogert JCJM, Berendse F (2004) Changes in soil and vegetation during dune slack succession. J Veg Sci 15:209–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Tansley AG (1949) The British islands and their vegetation, vol 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 930 ppGoogle Scholar
  87. Thomas PJ, Murray AS, Granja HM, Jain M (2008) Optical dating of late Quaternary coastal deposits in northwestern Portugal. J Coast Res 24/2B:134–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Thompson CH, Walker J, Drinnan JC, Clarke SF, Edwards JM, Ross DJ, Pedersen CH (1993) Coastal dunes at Shoalwater Bay, Queensland: data from a reconnaissance of vegetation, soils and landforms. Technical Memorandum, 93/10, Division of Water Resources, CSIRO, Australia. Source: Accessed 30 Oct 2011
  89. Tinley KL (1985) Coastal dunes of South Africa. South African National Scientific report no 109. Foundation for Research Development, Pretoria. Source: Accessed 4 Apr 2011
  90. van der Maarel E (ed) (1993a) Ecosystems of the world, 2A. Dry coastal ecosystems, polar regions and Europe. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 600 ppGoogle Scholar
  91. van der Maarel E (ed) (1993b) Ecosystems of the world, 2B. Dry coastal ecosystems, Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 636 ppGoogle Scholar
  92. Verwaest T, De Wolf P, Herrier J-L, Leten M (2005) Windows in the dunes – the creation of sea inlets in the nature reserve de Westhoek in De Panne. In: Herrier J-L, Mees J, Salman A, Seys J, Van Nieuwenhuyse H, Dobbelaere I (eds) Proceedings ‘Dunes and estuaries 2005’ – international conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium, 19–23 Sept 2005, VLIZ special publication vol 19. xiv+p 685, pp 433–439Google Scholar
  93. Wentworth CK (1922) A scale of grade and class terms for clastic sediments. J Geogr 30:377–393Google Scholar
  94. Wilson P, Braley SM (1997) Development and age structure of Holocene coastal sand dunes at Horn Head, near Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal, Ireland. Holocene 7(2):187–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Wilson P, Farrington O (1989) Radiocarbon dating of the Holocene evolution of Magilligan Foreland, Co. Londonderry. Proc R Ir Acad B Biol Geol Chem Sci 89B:1–23Google Scholar
  96. Zoladeski CA (1991) Vegetation zonation in dune slacks on the Łeba Bar, Polish Baltic Sea coast. J Veg Sci 2(2):255–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Patrick Doody
    • 1
  1. 1.National Coastal ConsultantsBrampton, HuntingdonUK

Personalised recommendations