The point count transect method for estimates of biodiversity on coral reefs: improving the sampling of rare species

Roberts, T. Edward, Bridge, Thomas C., Caley, M. Julian, and Baird, Andrew H. (2016) The point count transect method for estimates of biodiversity on coral reefs: improving the sampling of rare species. PLoS One, 11 (3). e0152335. pp. 1-10.

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Understanding patterns in species richness and diversity over environmental gradients (such as altitude and depth) is an enduring component of ecology. As most biological communities feature few common and many rare species, quantifying the presence and abundance of rare species is a crucial requirement for analysis of these patterns. Coral reefs present specific challenges for data collection, with limitations on time and site accessibility making efficiency crucial. Many commonly used methods, such as line intercept transects (LIT), are poorly suited to questions requiring the detection of rare events or species. Here, an alternative method for surveying reef-building corals is presented; the point count transect (PCT). The PCT consists of a count of coral colonies at a series of sample stations, located at regular intervals along a transect. In contrast the LIT records the proportion of each species occurring under a transect tape of a given length. The same site was surveyed using PCT and LIT to compare species richness estimates between the methods. The total number of species increased faster per individual sampled and unit of time invested using PCT. Furthermore, 41 of the 44 additional species recorded by the PCT occurred <= 3 times, demonstrating the increased capacity of PCT to detect rare species. PCT provides a more accurate estimate of local-scale species richness than the LIT, and is an efficient alternative method for surveying reef corals to address questions associated with alpha-diversity, and rare or incidental events.

Item ID: 43990
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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© 2016 Roberts et al. 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.

Funders: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies)
Projects and Grants: ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies CE140100020
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2016 07:48
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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