Assessing Derawan Island's Coral Reefs over Two Decades: A Machine Learning Classification Perspective

Sensors (Basel). 2024 Jan 12;24(2):466. doi: 10.3390/s24020466.


This study aims to understand the dynamic changes in the coral reef habitats of Derawan Island over two decades (2003, 2011, and 2021) using advanced machine learning classification techniques. The motivation stems from the urgent need for accurate, detailed environmental monitoring to inform conservation strategies, particularly in ecologically sensitive areas like coral reefs. We employed non-parametric machine learning algorithms, including Random Forest (RF), Support Vector Machine (SVM), and Classification and Regression Tree (CART), to assess spatial and temporal changes in coral habitats. Our analysis utilized high-resolution data from Landsat 9, Landsat 7, Sentinel-2, and Multispectral Aerial Photos. The RF algorithm proved to be the most accurate, achieving an accuracy of 71.43% with Landsat 9, 73.68% with Sentinel-2, and 78.28% with Multispectral Aerial Photos. Our findings indicate that the classification accuracy is significantly influenced by the geographic resolution and the quality of the field and satellite/aerial image data. Over the two decades, there was a notable decrease in the coral reef area from 2003 to 2011, with a reduction to 16 hectares, followed by a slight increase in area but with more heterogeneous densities between 2011 and 2021. The study underscores the dynamic nature of coral reef habitats and the efficacy of machine learning in environmental monitoring. The insights gained highlight the importance of advanced analytical methods in guiding conservation efforts and understanding ecological changes over time.

Keywords: Classification and Regression Tree; Random Forest; Support Vector Machine; coral reef; spatial and temporal distribution.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Anthozoa*
  • Coral Reefs*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Machine Learning