US East Coast foredune grasses —quantifying the abundance of literature

Two grasses tend to cover much of the coastal foredunes of the US Atlantic coast. North of the North Carolina/ Virginia area, foredunes are often covered in Ammophila breviligulata (American Beachgrass). South of the NC/VA area, foredunes are often covered in Uniola paniculata (Sea Oats). After my look at how much is written about ‘Coastal Dunes’, I wanted to look at how much is written about these two species. I searched for both of these species — separately — using the Web of Science in early March 2017. Each search is done as a ‘topic’ search, so responses come from paper titles, abstracts and keywords.

Various other plants are present on the shifting sands of East coast foredunes, such as Panicum amarum (Bitter Panic Grass), Spartina patens (Saltmeadow Cordgrass), and Iva imbricata (Dune-marsh elder), to name a few. I included P. amarum in this analysis just for fun.

Shown below is the number of papers written about each species in 5 year bins.


A. breviligulata also grows along the shores of the US ‘Great Lakes’, and the US West coast — I would guess this is the cause of the dominance in  A. breviligulata studies.

  • The ratio of papers per 5 year period for A. breviligulata: U. paniculata: P. Amarum is roughly 5:3:1.
  • The ratio of articles sizes (measured in bytes) on Wikipedia for each of the species is currently 3:2:1.
  • I keep wondering if the ratio of papers about the species reflects the ratio of total shoreline covered the species… or perhaps the ratio of some other abundance metric…

I have a paper in review about some of the geomorphic consequences of these different foredune species.


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