Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. David Hicks

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Kline

Third Advisor

Dr. Carlos E. Cintra-Buenrostro


On the continental shelf off the coast of South Texas lie a series of hardbottom structures known as the South Texas Banks, which provide critical habitat for benthic organisms and pelagic fish species. The depth of the banks, a persistent nepheloid layer, and strong currents have hindered efforts to collect quantitative data on what inhabits the rocky outcrops and relic coral-algal reefs. Using a remotely operated vehicle, video data from five of the banks were collected in order to characterize the benthic communities. Southern and North Hospital Banks were found to be the most diverse of the studied South Texas Banks. By correlating the benthic community data with terrain patterns from multibeam sonar images, ten habitat suitability models were created that predict the probability of presence of antipatharians, scleractinians, and octocorals. All studied mesophotic corals showed a preference for the shallowest depths and highest crests of the hardbottom banks.


Copyright 2016 Maria T. Cooksey. All Rights Reserved.

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