Matthew Toich

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2014


Marine resource managers face a series of complex challenges in observing coral stress across protected and unprotected areas under their purview. Limitations exist due to the difficulties in actively conducting in situ sampling and monitoring reef sites and conditions. Stressors to the reef ecosystem can occur across multiple scales and have varying degrees of impact on the health of corals. Additionally, the combined interactions between these stressors can produce unexpected and dramatic coral health decline, leading to bleaching and disease events across a reef. Due to these inherent difficulties in monitoring and evaluating reef health, the use of remote sensing seems to be one promising option to determine the intensity of stressors across a reef ecosystem. Satellite remote sensing can detect a variety of variables or a proxy for key variables that actively impact coral health, like sea surface temperature, nutrient loading, sedimentation, light availability, and other complex factors. By combining these and other variables with spatial constants such as bathymetric depth and human population proximity, areas that are actively impacted by multiple dynamic stressors can be highlighted, and thus can provide managers with new information for use in managing reef resources. In order to accomplish this, variables that could be sensed remotely were used to create a model for coral stressors by overlaying values to create a single output that could be run monthly for manager use. Limitations in data availability and resolution played a significant role in preventing statistical validation. However, the process and structure of the heuristic model that was developed still holds lessons for managers and developers alike.


Department: MAF

MPS Track: CZM

Location: NOAA AOML (Miami, FL)

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