Date of Graduation

12-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Dynamics (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Jason Tullis

Committee Member

Thomas Paradise

Second Committee Member

Fredrick Limp

Keywords

Aboveground Biomass, Avicennia marina, LIDAR, Population, Soil Characterization, Structural Properties

Abstract

Mangrove forests are national treasures of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other arid countries with limited forested areas. Mangroves form a crucial part of the coastal ecosystem and provide numerous benefits to society, economy, and especially the environment. Mangrove trees, specifically Avicennia marina, are studied in their native habitat in order to characterize their population structure, aboveground biomass, and soil properties. This study focused on Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park in Abu Dhabi, which was the first mangrove protected area to be designated in UAE. In situ measurements were collected to estimate Avicennia marina status, mortality rate (%), height (m), crown spread (m), stem number, diameter at breast height (cm), basal area (m), and aboveground biomass (t ha-1). Small-footprint aerial light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data acquired by UAE were processed to characterize mangrove canopy height and aboveground biomass density. This included extraction of LIDAR-derived height percentile statistics, segmentation of the forest into structurally homogenous units, and development of regression relationships between in situ reference and remote sensing data using a machine learning approach. Anin situ soil survey was conducted to examine the soils' physical and chemical properties, fertility status, and organic matter. The data of soil survey were used to create soil maps to evaluate key characteristics of soils, and their influence on Avicennia marina in Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park. The results of this study provide new insights into Avicennia marina canopy population, structure, aboveground biomass, and soil properties in Abu Dhabi, as data in such arid environments is lacking. This valuable information can help in managing and preserving this unique ecosystem.

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