Globally, sandy beaches are subject to coastal squeeze due to erosion. Soft-sediment strategies, such as sand nourishment, are increasingly applied to mitigate effects of erosion, but have long-term negative impacts on beach flora and fauna. As a more ecologically and sustainable alternative to regular beach nourishments, a mega-nourishment has been constructed along the Dutch coast by depositing 21.5 Mm3 of sand, from which sand is gradually redistributed along the coast by natural physical processes. The 'sand Motor’ mega-nourishment was constructed as a long-term management alternative for coastal protection and is the first large-scale experiment of its kind. We evaluated the development of intertidal macroinvertebrate communities in relation to this mega-nourishment, and compared it to species composition of beaches subject to regular beach or no nourishment. We found that a mega-nourishment resulted initially in a higher macroinvertebrate richness, but a lower macroinvertebrate abundance, compared to regular beach nourishment. As there was no effect of year after nourishment, this finding suggests that colonization and/or local extinction were not limiting macroinvertebrate richness at the mega-nourishment. In addition, a mega-nourishment does not converge to an intertidal macroinvertebrate community similar to those on unnourished beaches within a time scale of four years. Beach areas at the mega-nourishment sheltered from waves harbored a distinct macroinvertebrate community compared to typical wave-exposed sandy beach communities. Thus, a mega-nourishment temporally creates new habitat for intertidal macroinvertebrates by enhancing habitat relief of the sandy beach. We conclude that a mega-nourishment may be a promising coastal defense strategy for sandy shores in terms of the macroinvertebrate community of the intertidal beach.
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