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Title: Landscape ecology and conservation of the Cozumel Reefs National Park, Mexico
Author: Rioja-Nieto, Rodolfo
ISNI:       0000 0001 3519 5889
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis describes firstly the construction and use of a GIS to understand the marine landscape ecology of the Cozumel Reefs National Park, one of Mexico's most important MPAs. The thesis develops this GIS by a novel 'blend' of aerial photography and Landsat imagery. A Landsat 7 TM image was used to extend the coverage and improve the georeferencing of the high resolution aerial photography, while ground truthed polygons based on the latter were utilized to perform a supervised classification on the satellite image. A thematic map with J5 significant habitat classes was produced. Local Ecological Knowledge from diving operators was utilized to identify and characterise diving sites within the MPA and the unmanaged area to either side of it. All coral reef sites were shown to be heavily utilized and most of them are considered to be in a good condition. No relationship was found between habitat perceived condition and intensity of use. As further use is forecast and additional management is needed, three sites located on the southwest of the MPA are proposed to be designated as strict no-access areas. The GIS was then used to analyse, classify and evaluate both the MPA and then the effect of management strategies on the MPA, by comparing the p-diversity, area, fragmentation and size distribution of habitat polygons in managed and unmanaged regions. It is clear that the GIS is capable of providing clear and useful ecological measures, and was also used to show that management strategies which limit physical impact to marine habitats are having a positive effect on the integrity of some of the habitats, in particular for seagrass meadows and algae beds. During the study, Hurricane Emily struck Cozumel, so the opportunity was taken to examine differences this made to the· full set of benthic substrates of the area. Damage was variable and not all substrates were affected, suggesting that changes caused by the hurricane were related to the depths location and local characteristics ofthe island. Recommendations are made to improve the management of the MPA based on the results, and future priorities are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available