Coastal strand is the vegetated zone that typically occurs between open beach and maritime hammock habitats. It occurs on deep, well-drained, sandy soils that are largely wind-deposited and washed or sorted by wave action to some extent. Vegetation in this habitat is strongly affected by wind, wave action, and salt spray and consists of low-growing vines, grasses, and other herbaceous plants and salt-tolerant shrub species that, in some areas, may form dense thickets. Pioneer or early successional herbaceous vegetation characterizes foredune and upper beach areas with a gradual change to woody shrub species on the more protected and stabilized areas farther landward. Typical plant species include beach morning glory, railroad vine, sea oats, saw palmetto, Spanish bayonet, yaupon holly, wax myrtle, and sea grape; in southern Florida, cocoplum, nickerbean, and other more tropical species are present.
Coastal strand habitat is likely to have 40% of the current area inundated by 1 m of sea level rise and 84% inundated by 3 m of sea level rise. Increased soil salinity will lead to changes in species composition and structure as salt intolerant plants decline and plants with higher salt tolerances increase. Increased temperatures, as well as extreme events will enhance invasive species processes, from introduction through establishment and expansion.
Beach mice will be impacted by habitat degradation as plant species composition changes (potential loss of food plants).
Gopher tortoises utilize areas of coastal strand and will be impacted as these areas become inundated due to sea level rise.
Expansion of invasive plant species, such as the Australian pine, due to changes in temperature regimes will lead to compositional and structural changes in the community, impacting the suitability to multiple species. Australian pine can tolerate inundation by seawater and deposition of salt spray better than many native woody species, allowing it to displace native coastal strand species.