Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. John Callaway

Second Advisor

Dr. David Saah


Anthropogenic activities have resulted in ever-increasing threats to coral reefs globally, wherein the rate of environmental changes have exceeded the historical capacity of corals to adapt. This has threatened the persistence of coral ecosystems and their associated ecosystem services, which billions of people rely on for their livelihoods. The most prevalent stressor is nitrogen enrichment, which while present naturally, is exacerbated by the anthropogenic input of nutrients via the discharge of agricultural and urban waste waters. The focus is to answer the central research question of how nitrogen enrichment impacts corals, and how it interacts with other stressors with particular focus on the Caribbean Sea. Nitrogen enrichment directly impacts corals by promoting algae dominance of coral ecosystems, disrupting coral symbiotic relationships, increasing disease prevalence, and indirectly by creating hypoxic conditions and affecting coral calcification rates. The case study of the PNN Los Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo served to demonstrate the use of remote sensing for monitoring chlorophyl-a concentrations and sea surface temperatures, where these two water quality parameters were negatively correlated from 2003 to 2021. Promoting the use of these tools is of crucial importance in the Caribbean region, where many local communities lack accessible resources available for environmental management. It is evident that, in addition to reducing nitrogen enrichment events, managers need to implement coordinated management to reduce multiple environmental stressors that affects corals. Finally, it is necessary to provide education that allows local communities to not only identify the challenges that corals face but also the solutions moving forward.