Morro Dunes, California
Coastal dune ecosystems are created in areas where there is a great deal of sand, steady winds blowing from one direction, and a natural area that allows the sand to become trapped and collected. Many dune areas along the coast are narrow bands of sand between a beach and another ecosystem on the inland side. You will find a small variety of plants and animals. It's a tough environment because the terrain is constantly shifting and there is little protection. You will find birds, squirrels, mice, and lizards with the localized plant species.
As you move towards the inland side of the dunes, the number and variety of plant species increases. It is almost as if those dunes are a transition zone between a sandy beach and many possible interior ecosystems. You might find dunes next to wet lands, dwarf forests, marshes, bogs, or prairies.
This example is of Morro Dunes in California. Located in San Luis Obisbo county, this protected ecosystem is home to many threatened California species.
Image Credit: Andrew Rader Studios