Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Julie C Zinnert

Second Advisor

Donald R Young

Third Advisor

Lesley P Bulluck

Fourth Advisor

Salvatore Agosta


Islands have been characterized based on vegetation and topography as exhibiting different disturbance regimes - reinforcing or resisting. This study had two objectives: quantify barrier island upland migration and vegetation cover change over 32 years (1984-2016), and assess tolerance of two prevalent dune grass species, A. breviligulata, and S. patens to sand burial. Using Landsat imagery from the Virginia Coast Reserve, islands were categorized within the disturbance resistance/reinforcing framework based on dune elevation. Resistant areas were associated with woody cover and low marsh to upland migration while reinforcing areas had low vegetation cover and high rates of migration. System-wide, migration rates increased over time and large losses of upland and marsh, paired with expansions of woody cover occurred. In the field, each grass species was subject to repeated burials. S. patens was able to maintain biomass and height in high rates of burial, whereas A. breviligulata did not survive.


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