Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor's Name

Michael S. Ross

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Keqi Zhang

Third Advisor's Name

John Withey


Chilling temperature, Mangroves, Disturbance, Change detection, Landsat, LiDAR, Canopy height

Date of Defense



Chilling events are infrequent but important disturbances in subtropical Florida. When temperatures drop to near freezing, significant mortality often accrues in mangrove forests. Chilling events play a role in maintaining structural diversity in mangrove forests, and in limiting mangrove poleward distribution. I examined the spatio-temporal distribution of chilling events in mangrove forests of southern Biscayne Bay by using Landsat TM5 images since 1989. Damage was usually confined to dwarf mangrove forest, especially when chilling temperatures were moderate and short in duration. However, damage from extended and severe freezes such as in January 2010 impacted larger trees as well. Recovery is gradual, often extending over multiple years, depending on disturbance severity. Plant communities respond to repeated chilling with increase in the dominance of black mangrove. In the absence of chilling events, patch level dynamics might lead to prevalence of a more homogenous tall red mangrove canopy in these wetlands. Such a trajectory may result with increasing temperatures expected under current global climate change scenarios





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