Mapping changes in submerged aquatic vegetation using Landsat imagery and benthic habitat data: coral reef ecosystem monitoring in Vieques Sound between 1985 and 2000
Abstract:Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) imagery for eastern Puerto Rico, collected January of 1985 and March of 2000, was used to perform a multi-temporal classification technique to identify and quantify the dynamics of submerged aquatic vegetation (seagrass and macroalgae) in a study area located in Vieques Sound, off the east coast of Puerto Rico. This change detection was validated using benthic habitat maps of the area created from 1999 aerial photography, and then contextually edited to map different types of change occurring within the study period, including recent sedimentation, changes in seagrass patchiness, and macroalgal cover. The results show that the distribution of seagrass meadows and macroalgae were expanding more than decreasing in the study area between 1985 and 2000. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) growth was mainly occurring in deeper waters, whereas shallower seagrass meadows along the north shore of Vieques became increasingly patchy. This analysis demonstrates that the dynamic nature of seagrass meadows and macroalgae in the Vieques Sound can be assessed accurately and efficiently by satellite imagery. The ability to map and identify changes in extent of SAV is important coral reef ecosystem monitoring and targeting of vulnerable and affected areas for more specific research and further study.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 2006
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