Graduation Year

2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Pamela Hallock Muller, Ph. D.

Co-Major Professor

John Brock, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Deby Cassill, Ph. D.

Committee Member

David Mann, Ph. D.

Keywords

patch reef, Biscayne National Park, rugosity, digital camera, Florida Keys

Abstract

The Along-Track Reef-Imaging System (ATRIS) is a vessel-mounted, digital camera, depth sounder and Global Positioning System (GPS) package that facilitates the rapid capture of underwater images in shallow-water benthic environments. This technology has the potential to collect ecologically significant data, particularly in benthic habitats less than 10 m in depth, with better location referencing and in less time than is required for surveys carried out by Scuba divers. In October 2004, ATRIS was tested coincidently with SCUBA-assisted video along transects on five patch reefs in Biscayne National Park. Images from both data sets were subsampled, viewed, and benthic cover under random points were identified and counted. Digital-still images of reef benthos collected by ATRIS were of higher quality than SCUBA-acquired video imagery, allowing more reliable classification of benthos. “Substrate”, which included areas of hard-ground, sand or rubble, was the most frequently identified benthic category (43%), followed by octocoral (21%), unidentifiable (19%), and macroalgae (12%). Total stony coral cover averaged less than 5%. ATRIS-acquired benthic-cover data were compared with rugosity data derived from the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL), revealing no strong correlations, probably because much of the hard substrate patch reef topography was created by corals that have died in the past few decades. ATRIS, diver-acquired data, and EAARL provide different scales of information, all of which can be valuable tools for assessing and managing coral reefs.

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