Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Engineering and Applied Science


Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major Professor

O'Connell, Martin

Second Advisor

McCorquodale, J. Alex

Third Advisor

Lyzenga, David

Fourth Advisor

D'Sa, Eurico

Fifth Advisor

Smith, Patrick


Madagascar, a country whose extraordinary levels of endemism and biodiversity are celebrated globally by scientists and laymen alike, yet historically has received surprisingly little research attention, is the setting of the present dissertation. Here, I contribute to the need for applied research by: 1) focusing on the most intensely fished section of the Toliara Barrier Reef, the Bay of Ranobe; 2) characterizing the marine environment, the human population, and the fisheries; and 3) collecting the longest known time-series of data on fisheries of Madagascar, thereby providing a useful baseline for future analyses. In Chapter 1, the bathymetry of the Bay was characterized following a unique application of the boosted regression tree classifier to the RGB bands of IKONOS imagery. Derivation of water depths, based on DOS-corrected images, following a generic, log-transformed multiple linear regression approach produced a predictive accuracy of 1.28 m, whereas model fitting performed using the boosted regression tree classifier, allowing for interaction effects (tree complexity= 2), provided increased accuracy (RMSE= 1.01 m). Estimates of human population abundance, distribution, and dynamics were obtained following a dwelling-unit enumeration approach, using IKONOS Panchromatic and Google Earth images. Results indicated, in 2016, 31,850 people lived within 1 km of the shore, and 28,046 people lived within the 12 coastal villages of the Bay. Localized population growth rates within the villages, where birth rates and migration are combined, ranged from 2.96% - 6.83%, greatly exceeding official estimates of 2.78%. Annual pirogue counts demonstrated a shift in fishing effort from south to the north. Gear and boat (pirogue) profiles were developed, and the theoretical maximum number of fishermen predicted (n= 4,820), in 2013, from a regression model based on pirogue lengths (R2= 0.49). Spatial fishing effort distribution was mapped following a satellite-based enumeration of fishers-at-sea, resulting in a bay-wide estimate of intensity equaling 33.3 pirogue-meters km-2. Landings and CPUE were characterized, with respect to finfish, by family, species, gear, and village. Expansion of landings to bay-wide fisheries yields indicated 1,885.8 mt year-1 of mixed fisheries productivity, with an estimated wholesale value of 1.64 million USD per annum.


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