There are several different ways that site managers, volunteers and members of the public interested in becoming citizen scientists can help monitor sand dunes. Monitoring different areas of the dunes helps us understand the health of the different dune habitats and the wildlife that lives in them, and allows us to evaluate how successful the work that we do in the dunes is.

Use these videos to help you learn how to conduct different types of surveys in the dunes. You can find out more about each of these activities and monitoring sand dunes by downloading our Dynamic Dunescapes Citizen Science Manual.

 

Dune vegetation quadrat surveys

Sand dune systems have become increasingly stable in recent decades, and as a result have lost the bare sand that keeps them active and supports many rare species. Monitoring the height, type and extent of vegetation cover in the dunes is important for understanding and quantifying how stabile dunes are becoming.

You will need:

  • GPS (or mobile phone app with GPS)
  • GPS coordinates to the transect
  • Compass (or mobile phone app with compass)
  • Tape measure and meter stick
  • 4 x marking canes to create your quadrat
  • Phone with Dunescapes App downloaded, or a data sheet to record your data

 

Water table measurements using a dipwell

Sand dunes are separated by dips, called dune slacks. Where these low areas are low enough to meet the dune water table, freshwater pools can form. These slacks are fantastic habitats for dune wildlife such as natterjack toads, which use the pools for breeding. It's important to understand the changes in the water table throughout the year. These surveys should be done at least once a month.

You will need:

  • GPS (or mobile phone app with GPS)
  • Compass (or mobile phone app with compass)
  • The coordinates of the dipwell
  • Dipmeter
  • Tape measure
  • Phone with Dunescapes App downloaded, or a data sheet to record your data

 

Indicator species vegetation survey

There are many different plant species that live on our sand dunes. Some are positive indicator species, signalling that the dunes are in good health, while others thrive in poor dune health conditions, acting as a negative indicator species. By surveying the different vegetation types repeatedly over time, we can learn more about the health of a sand dune. For example, an increasing presence of positive indicator species, would show us that the dune habitat is getting healthier.

You will need:

  • GPS (or mobile phone app with GPS)
  • GPS coordinates to the transect
  • Compass (or mobile phone app with compass)
  • Tape measure and meter stick
  • 4 x marking canes to create your quadrat
  • Plant indicator species list
  • Plant identification guide
  • Phone with Dunescapes App downloaded, or a data sheet to record your data

 

Fixed point photography survey

Taking photos from the same spot, looking in the same direction, over the course of many years, is known as fixed-point photography. Comparing these images helps us understand how landscapes are changing over time.

You will need:

  • GPS (or mobile phone app with GPS)
  • GPS coordinates to the correct location
  • Or a map of the correct location
  • Camera (can be on your mobile phone)
  • Phone with Dunescapes App downloaded, or a data sheet to record your data