The roles of dimensionality, canopies and complexity in ecosystem monitoring

Goatley, Christopher H.R., and Bellwood, David R. (2011) The roles of dimensionality, canopies and complexity in ecosystem monitoring. PLoS ONE, 6 (11). e27307. pp. 1-8.

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Abstract

Canopies are common among autotrophs, increasing their access to light and thereby increasing competitive abilities. If viewed from above canopies may conceal objects beneath them creating a 'canopy effect'. Due to complexities in collecting 3-dimensional data, most ecosystem monitoring programmes reduce dimensionality when sampling, resorting to planar views. The resultant 'canopy effects' may bias data interpretation, particularly following disturbances. Canopy effects are especially relevant on coral reefs where coral cover is often used to evaluate and communicate ecosystem health. We show that canopies hide benthic components including massive corals and algal turfs, and as planar views are almost ubiquitously used to monitor disturbances, the loss of vulnerable canopy-forming corals may bias findings by presenting pre-existing benthic components as an altered system. Our reliance on planar views in monitoring ecosystems, especially coral cover on reefs, needs to be reassessed if we are to better understand the ecological consequences of ever more frequent disturbances.

Item ID: 19657
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2011 Goatley, Bellwood. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 02:04
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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