Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Pamela Hallock Muller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gary T. Mitchum, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward W. Burkett, Ph.D.


back reef, Belize, coral growth, coral reefs, image analysis, massive scleractinian, modeling, patch reefs


Image analysis was used to measure basal areas of selected colonies of Montastraea annularis and Porites astreoides, following the colonies over a three-year period from 2002 to 2004. Existing digital images of permanently-marked quadrats in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Belize, were selected based on image quality and availability of images of selected quadrats for all three years. Annual growth rates were calculated from the basal-area measurements. Mean growth rates (radial skeletal extension) for M. annularis and P. astreoides were 0.02 cm yr-1 and -0.20 cm yr-1, respectively. Basal area measurements demonstrated a large degree of variability. Increases were approximately balanced by declines giving the impression of stasis. By removing negative values and correcting by 25% to allow for comparison with vertical growth rates, mean values increased to ~0.5 cm yr-1 for M. annularis and ~0.8 cm yr-1 for P. astreoides.

Basal area as a growth measure was compared to methods used in earlier studies. A new growth index based on basal area and perimeter was proposed and modeled. This growth index can be useful for reporting growth measured from basal areas and comparable other methods. The index also measures negative growth, or mortality, which conventional methods cannot do.