Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Ruiliang Pu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yujie Hu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ping Wang, Ph.D.


Coastal Wetlands, GIS, NDVI, Remote Sensing


St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve (SMMAP) is a 28,461 acre (115.18 km2) preserve located on the coast of Citrus County, Florida, USA. There has been no published research that focused on coastal change on this unique coast. This thesis research focuses on coastal land cover change that has occurred within the preserve from 1988 to 2018. Multitemporal Landsat images were classified using a support vector machine (SVM) classification, while changes in vegetation were evaluated using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Field research was conducted to examine nineteen sites for classification training and test data and notes on habitat composition. The changes in land cover were then compared to elevation, NDVI values, and meteorological data. Overall, the land cover from 1988 to 2018 displayed a percent difference of +14.26% in mangrove area, -18.29% in hydric hammock area, -16.25% in salt marsh area, and +3.52% in water area. The results of this study suggest that mangroves are expanding throughout SMMAP and outcompeting salt marsh. Salt marshes are moving into regions where hydric hammock forests were once dominant, while hydric hammock forests are declining.