Remote Sensing of Tropical Ecosystems

The remote sensing of tropical ecosystems is somewhat of a new venture for me. In particular, I am interested in techniques to derive estimates of seagrass coverage from Remote Sensing instruments. These ecosystems are severely threatened by rising sea levels and ocean warming, not to mention the effect of rising atmospheric temperatures. But without fundamental knowledge of their spatial extent and how this is changing through time, we cannot begin to try and understand how these factors will influence their growth and decay in the coming century.

Intertidal seagrass from Gazi Bay, Kenya.

I have quantified the reduction in seagras coverage in Kenya using satellite imagery and field surveys [1], see here. Documenting these changes is vital to understand the drivers seagrass loss. We have suggested that fishing damage is one of the primary causes of change along the Kenyan coast, but other Anthropogenic influences (e.g. land-use practices) are likely to be important. In addition, these data sets form the basis of analysis for other projects. For example, we are using the seagrass coverage maps to analyse fish movement around the reef ecosystems of Southern Kenya.

[1] Harcourt, W.D., Briers, R.A., Huxham, M. (2018). The thin(ning) green line? Investigating changes in Kenya’s seagrass seagrass coverage, Biol. Lett., 14, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0227.