Abstract

Seagrass meadows, like coral reefs, are in decline globally but are often neglected in marine policy and conservation despite their equally critical ecosystem services. Both habitats can be heavily impacted by wave surges, rainfall-induced earth movement and flooding, changes to water temperature, salinity, and acidity, and increased levels of turbidity—all occurring at increased rates due to a changing global climate. We demonstrate that multispectral satellite imagery, geospatial tools, and classification techniques can be used to inform management by identifying and quantifying changes in seagrass distribution and the presence of sediment-related threats. Results from Dominica indicate near-shore seagrass habitat area increased by 195.7 hectares between 2016 and 2019, suggesting a continued expansion of Halophila stipulacea. Further analysis showed 22.4 hectares of accreted coastal sediment and 1362.2 hectares of suspended sediment captured, placing 424.4 hectares of sensitive reef area at risk of experiencing tissue abrasion or reduced photosynthetic activity. Our methods can be used by marine resource managers and policy makers to inform decisions relating to fisheries production, emissions trading, disaster risk mitigation, and invasive species monitoring, facilitating sustainable growth in the blue economy.

Degree

MS

College and Department

Plant and Wildlife Sciences

Rights

https://lib.byu.edu/about/copyright/

Date Submitted

2021-04-01

Document Type

Thesis

Handle

http://hdl.lib.byu.edu/1877/etd11562

Keywords

Halophila stipulacea, Dominica, Hurricane Maria, small island developing states, natural disasters, marine management, seagrass

Language

english

Included in

Life Sciences Commons

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