Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Maria Luisa Estevanez

Second Committee Member

Gary L. Hitchcock

Third Committee Member

Christopher Kelble

Fourth Committee Member

Jill Richardson


Persistent macro-algal blooms have contributed to the decline of seagrass habitats throughout Biscayne Bay. South Florida’s canal system results in point-sources for excess nutrients that have collected from various types of anthropogenic activities in the watershed. One of the primary goals of the NOAA Habitat Blueprint Program’s Biscayne Bay Habitat Focus Area is to understand and develop mitigation strategies to combat excessive nutrient loading and increased macro-algal growth in the bay. This exploratory study utilized high resolution datasets and GIS spatial analysis techniques to analyze nutrient loading trends and relationships with adjacent land use in the Coral Gables Waterway. Nutrient concentrations throughout the canal displayed a high-low gradient from upstream to downstream sites most likely caused by physical barriers and seawater mixing. Total area grass, grass mean patch size, estimated population density, and the proximity to storm water drains within 250, 500, and 1000 meter buffer zones showed significant positive correlations with nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations. With refinement, this exploratory method could prove to be an effective means of identifying areas for further study and targeted mitigation strategies. The continued use of an intensive sampling regime in the Coral Gables Waterway is highly recommended, as it offers an invaluable dissection of the unique physical and chemical characteristics that govern nutrient loading into Biscayne Bay and is of the appropriate spatial resolution to link with land-use and nutrient loading.


Water Quality; Macro-algal Blooms; Biscayne Bay Habitat Focus Area; Spatial Analysis; Land Use; Coral Gables Waterway