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A multiscale analysis of coral reef topographic complexity using lidar-derived bathymetry

January 1, 2009

Coral reefs represent one of the most irregular substrates in the marine environment. This roughness or topographic complexity is an important structural characteristic of reef habitats that affects a number of ecological and environmental attributes, including species diversity and water circulation. Little is known about the range of topographic complexity exhibited within a reef or between different reef systems. The objective of this study was to quantify topographic complexity for a 5-km x 5-km reefscape along the northern Florida Keys reef tract, over spatial scales ranging from meters to hundreds of meters. The underlying dataset was a 1-m spatial resolution, digital elevation model constructed from lidar measurements. Topographic complexity was quantified using a fractal algorithm, which provided a multi-scale characterization of reef roughness. The computed fractal dimensions (D) are a measure of substrate irregularity and are bounded between values of 2 and 3. Spatial patterns in D were positively correlated with known reef zonation in the area. Landward regions of the study site contain relatively smooth (D ??? 2.35) flat-topped patch reefs, which give way to rougher (D ??? 2.5), deep, knoll-shaped patch reefs. The seaward boundary contains a mixture of substrate features, including discontinuous shelf-edge reefs, and exhibits a corresponding range of roughness values (2.28 ??? D ??? 2.61). ?? 2009 Coastal Education and Research Foundation.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2009
Title A multiscale analysis of coral reef topographic complexity using lidar-derived bathymetry
DOI 10.2112/SI53-002.1
Authors D.G. Zawada, J. C. Brock
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Coastal Research
Index ID 70035181
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse