Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Frank E. Muller-Karger, Ph.D.


Remote sensing, Change detection, Coral cover, Water quality, Attenuation coefficient


The decline of coral reef habitats has been witnessed on a global scale, with some of the most dramatic decline occurring in the florida keys. as remote sensing can provide a synoptic view of coral reef ecosystems, 28 landsat images (1984-2002) were utilized to study water clarity and habitat change. first, the data were used to derive the diffuse attenuation coefficient (kd, m-1), a measure of water clarity, for 29 sites throughout the florida keys national marine sanctuary (fknms). landsat-derived kd values from bands 1 (blue) and 2 (green) provided useful information for 26 of 29 sites, whereas band 3 (red) provided no consistent data due to the high absorption of red light by water. it was not possible to assess long-term temporal trends as data were acquired, at most, twice a year. spatial variability was high between sites and between regions (upper, middle and lower keys) for bands 1 (0.019 m-1 - 0.060 m-1) and 2 (0.036 m-1 - 0.076 m-1). the highest kd values were f

ound in the upper keys, followed by the middle and lower keys, respectively. this trend was corroborated by in situ monitoring of kd(par). second, the data were used to assess benthic habitat changes in eight coral reef sites located in the fknms. a mahalanobis distance classification was trained for four classes using in situ ground-truth data. overall coral habitat decline was 61% (3.4%/y), from 19% (1984) to 7.7% (2002). in situ monitoring data acquired by the coral reef evaluation and monitoring project (cremp) for the eight reef sites (1996-2002) showed a loss in coral cover of 52%, whereas the landsat-derived coral-habitat cover declined 37% for the same time period. a trend comparison between the full cremp percent coral cover data (1996-2004) and the full landsat-derived coral habitat class (1984-2002) showed no significant difference between the rates of change (ancova f-test, p = 0.303). The derivation of Kd and benthic habitat maps produced from Landsat data could provide c

oastal marine managers another tool to help in the decision-making process.