San Diego Management & Monitoring Program

Threats and Stressors
Adaptive Management of Coastal Sand Dunes in Mission Bay to Benefit Native Plants and the CA Least Tern


Project description

San Diego Audubon has been leading efforts to restore coastal sand dunes in Mission Bay for decades, largely focused on supporting nesting California Least Terns (Sternula antillarum browni), and rare and endangered sand dune plants such as Nuttall's Lotus (Acmispon prostratus) and Coast Wooly Head (Nemacaulis denudata). The primary threat to these species is the presence of fast-growing, nonnative vegetation, which takes up space that Least Terns require for nesting, and outcompetes native dune plants. Volunteer-led hand management of these sites has resulted in a dramatic reduction in invasive cover, and bi-annual vegetation monitoring has revealed that hand management is a more effective strategy in reducing nonnative growth than the more traditional mechanized scraping and broadcast herbicide application strategies. These results are being used to inform year-to-year site management, and to create longterm strategies for managing coastal dunes in Mission Bay.

Project focus

Project type: General Management

Target species: California least tern, cottonheads, Nuttall's acmispon

Target vegetation: dunes and coastal bluffs

Data steward: Megan Flaherty

Main implementing entity: San Diego Audubon Society

Partner: City of San Diego; Institute for Ecological Modeling and Management at San Diego State University; Mission Bay Park Rangers; San Diego Management and Monitoring Program

Point of contact: Megan Flaherty

Project Page manager: Sarah McCutcheon

SDMMP lead: Kris Preston

Study lead: Megan Flaherty

Strategic elements

MSP Objectives and actions:STEANT-5; ACMPRO-2

Files and Documents