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.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Shields, Ryan J., "Using Geospatial Tools to Assess Changes to Marine Ecosystems in Small Island Developing States Following Hurricane Disturbances: A Case Study of Dominica After Hurricane Maria" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 8922.
Halophila stipulacea, Dominica, Hurricane Maria, small island developing states, natural disasters, marine management, seagrass