Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Earth Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jenn Dijkstra

Second Advisor

Easton White


In the Florida Keys Acropora cervicornis has been targeted for restoration due to its importance as a reef building stony coral. Habitat suitability models have been utilized within restoration ecology to identify potential locations for outplanting. To date, habitat suitability models have used coarse spatial data of large areas throughout the Florida Keys, resulting in recommended outplant sites that restoration groups have financial and logistical limitations to access and regularly monitor, due to being far away. Additionally, outplanting success can vary widely within a limited space, necessitating improved predictive abilities of coral outplant success within a restoration site. With the advent of Structure from Motion, fine–scale, site specific, digital elevation models can be created to support habitat suitability model development. In this study, generalized linear mixed models use extracted seafloor terrain attributes and environmental variables to identify within site locations of high A. cervicornis growth and healthy coral cover of long-term outplants. Percent healthy coral cover significantly decreased after two years of outplantation, with a submodel of just corals less than two years old unable to identify environmental conditions associated with higher percent healthy cover. Depth, distance from coast, less rough terrain, and proximity to the spur-and-groove interface, are correlated with higher percent healthy coral cover. Convex terrain, rough terrain, marine heat and cold waves are correlated with decreased coral growth. Increased slope, distance from coast, and high wind events are correlated with higher coral growth. Cumulatively, these results emphasize the importance of long-term monitoring and fine-scale surveying when making coral outplant site recommendations.