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Temporal dynamics of benthic habitats in the coastal reef of Abrolhos Bank, BA

Grant number: 23/13544-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2024
Effective date (End): February 28, 2026
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Geosciences
Principal Investigator:Milton Kampel
Grantee:Thais Andrade Galvao de Medeiros
Host Institution: Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE). Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (Brasil). São José dos Campos , SP, Brazil


Coral reefs are of great ecological, economic, and social importance due to their biodiversity and productivity, providing ecosystem services such as coastal protection and carbon sequestration. Their benthic communities have high structural complexity and provide habitat and food for various marine species. However, they have faced various environmental and anthropogenic pressures over the years, jeopardizing vital goods and services for millions of people worldwide. Mapping and monitoring the benthic habitats of coral reefs using remote sensing techniques makes it possible to analyze their spatial and temporal dynamics on a large scale, providing essential information for strategic marine conservation planning and implementing effective management of their resources. This data, combined with the analysis of landscape metrics, provides a better understanding of the processes, dynamics, and impacts on coral reefs. In this context, this project aims to analyze the temporal variability of the benthic habitats of the coastal reef of Sebastião Gomes, Abrolhos Bank, BA, over the last 14 years and to determine which environmental and anthropogenic forces are related to changes in reef cover. High spatial resolution (2m) WorldView-2 orbital images from 2010, 2016, and 2024 will be corrected, segmented, and classified using the Random Forest model. Bathymetric and texture data will be derived from the corrected images and used as input in this model. Subsequently, landscape metrics (total area, number of patches, largest patch index, and Euclidean nearest-neighbor distance description) will be applied to each habitat type class for each year. Statistical analyses such as ANOVA, Whitney Rank Sum, and Kruskal-Wallis applied to the landscape metrics, and pixel-by-pixel comparisons post-classifications will indicate the possible changes in benthic habitats over the years analyzed. Finally, a time series of environmental and anthropogenic variables derived from satellite data, such as temperature, chlorophyll-a concentration, sea surface wind, wave height, accumulation of positive sea surface temperature anomalies, turbidity (indexed by the photosynthetically active radiation attenuation coefficient KdPAR), incident radiation in the ultraviolet range, dissolved nutrients, river flow, land use, and occupation will be generated and statistically analyzed, together with data collected in situ, using the Generalized Additive Model in an attempt to identify possible relationships with the variation in reef cover. This work aims to contribute to the characterization of the benthic environment of a coastal reef on the Abrolhos Bank, developing a methodological approach that has the potential to be applied to other reefs and used for the biological preservation of these ecosystems.

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