Living Shoreline Research

Estuarine Shoreline Management Research Needs

Purpose: This list is a composite of research and monitoring priorities identified by an ad-hoc workgroup consisting of staff within the Regulatory, Policy, and Coastal Reserve sections of the Division of Coastal Management. The list of priorities is organized into three broad topical areas (in no order of importance). The list is not intended to be exhaustive, rather a ‘living document’ depicting current priorities identified by workgroup members. Please direct inquiries and questions regarding this list to Brandon Puckett (, the Coastal Reserve’s Research Coordinator. Please also view the Divisions of Coastal Management & Marine Fisheries Living Shorelines Strategy Report and Living Shorelines Accomplishments Report.


  • Impacts of shoreline stabilization approaches on emergent and submerged vegetation
    • Is loss of emergent and submerged vegetation waterward of bulkheads, riprap, and sills occurring at rates exceeding loss where shorelines are not hardened?  
    • How are impacts of shoreline stabilization on emergent and submerged vegetation affected by sediment supply, energy regime, and/or other interacting factors? 
    • What are the environmental settings and site conditions where traditional bulkheads and rip-rap/revetments are harmful to intertidal and subtidal zones? 
  • Living shorelines
    • What are the initial construction, maintenance, and replacement costs of living shorelines? How do costs compare to traditional shoreline stabilization approaches?
    • When constructing marsh sills, what are the consequences of converting subtidal to intertidal habitat and existing soft-bottom intertidal habitat to hardened intertidal habitat?
    • How does the performance of living shorelines change over time (i.e., as structures age)? Is intertidal habitat converted to upland habitat? 
  • Alternative materials
    • How does different shoreline stabilization material perform in various environmental settings? 
      • What is the durability of oyster shell vs. rock vs. other alternative shoreline stabilization materials?
      • What are the ecosystem benefits and tradeoffs of oyster shell vs. rock vs. other alternative shoreline stabilization materials?
      • Are there site suitability differences across alternative materials (e.g., loose oyster shell, rock)? What are optimum conditions for each?
    • What metrics should be monitored to determine success or failure across material types?