Coastal dynamics and anthropization in uruguayan beaches: an integrated analysis for its conservation
Coastal environments are being affected on a global scale by excessive urbanization, industrial growth and tourism, which are causing erosion, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem alteration, constituting potential risks that entail negative environmental and socioeconomic consequences. In this sense, the Uruguayan coast, characterized by extensive sandy beaches separated by rocky promontories, is not excluded from to this global problem. Focusing on geomorphological, sedimentological and malacological aspects, we tackle the anthropic impact on littoral dynamics with the purpose of creating a database to evaluate different aspects related to the beach resource management. In this work, seven beaches from Maldonado Department were compared, one on which is on an estuarial environment while the others are on the Atlantic margin, and they all present different degrees of anthropization and urbanization. Each coastal zone (foreshore, backshore, dune and modified dune) was parameterized taking into account the area, width, slope and cross section through a geomorphological analysis, making use of satellite images, digital elevation models, and processing and storage of data in a geographic information system. The grain size analysis allowed the characterization of each site and coastal zone, and by statistics it was possible to establish a relationship between the increase of the standard deviation and the anthropization in the coastal strip. The faunal composition identified in the beaches and different index calculations showed the sites with the greatest diversity and dominance. The anthropization in the coastal strip is associated with incipient urban development, which modifies the dune sector generating a reduction of the coastal zones, exposing more vulnerable areas to littoral erosion. This results presented in this paper may contribute to a better management of the coastal environment and to identify critical zones.