Development and Application of Acoustic Methods for Characterizing Eelgrass Beds Using a Multi-Beam Echosounder

Ashley Norton
Ph.D. Proposal Defense

Natural Resource and Earth System Science

Thursday, May. 28, 2015, 2:00pm
Chase 130

The proposed research seeks to develop a new tool for detecting changes at the deep edge of seagrass beds, the part of the beds most vulnerable to water clarity issues such as eutrophication and increased suspended sediment loads. I propose to develop methodology to particularly quantify the depth limit (‘deep edge’),percent cover and canopy height of eelgrass beds at high resolution (~1 m) using water column backscatter data from a multi-beam echosounder.Data obtained using this new acoustic methodology will be quantitatively evaluated against other pre-existing eelgrass habitat mapping datasets in the same study area.


Ashley Norton is pursuing her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science. She graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in marine science, and went on to get an M.S. in geology from the University of Delaware. During her master’s, she worked on the ongoing seafloor mapping project at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS), which uses a phase-measuring bathymetric sonar to map the nearshore areas of Outer Cape Cod. Some of these data were used to complete her thesis at the University of Delaware, which focused on mapping eelgrass and bedforms in Cape Cod Bay. Ashley’s research here at CCOM/JHC focuses on developing acoustic methods for discerning and describing eelgrass beds in Great Bay.