Rapid survey protocol that provides dynamic information on reef condition to managers of the Great Barrier Reef

Beeden, R.J., Turner, M.A., Dryden, J., Merida, F., Goudkamp, K., Malone, C., Marshall, P.A., Birtles, A., and Maynard, J.A. (2014) Rapid survey protocol that provides dynamic information on reef condition to managers of the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 186 (12). pp. 8527-8540.

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Abstract

Managing to support coral reef resilience as the climate changes requires strategic and responsive actions that reduce anthropogenic stress. Managers can only target and tailor these actions if they regularly receive information on system condition and impact severity. In large coral reef areas like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), acquiring condition and impact data with good spatial and temporal coverage requires using a large network of observers. Here, we describe the result of ~10 years of evolving and refining participatory monitoring programs used in the GBR that have rangers, tourism operators and members of the public as observers. Participants complete Reef Health and Impact Surveys (RHIS) using a protocol that meets coral reef managers' needs for up-to-date information on the following: benthic community composition, reef condition and impacts including coral diseases, damage, predation and the presence of rubbish. Training programs ensure that the information gathered is sufficiently precise to inform management decisions. Participants regularly report because the demands of the survey methodology have been matched to their time availability. Undertaking the RHIS protocol we describe involves three ~20 min surveys at each site. Participants enter data into an online data management system that can create reports for managers and participants within minutes of data being submitted. Since 2009, 211 participants have completed a total of more than 10,415 surveys at more than 625 different reefs. The two-way exchange of information between managers and participants increases the capacity to manage reefs adaptively, meets education and outreach objectives and can increase stewardship. The general approach used and the survey methodology are both sufficiently adaptable to be used in all reef regions.

Item ID: 37691
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: adaptive management, citizen science, Great Barrier Reef, monitoring, reef health, survey protocol
ISSN: 1573-2959
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2015 23:56
Downloads: Total: 2
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