No subject

John McManus J.MCMANUS at
Thu Oct 17 19:27:00 EDT 1996

TO:Coral List 
cc.: Carl Stepath 
FROM:Dr John W McManus/ICLARM 
DATE:17 October 1996 

Someone recently asked me for some leads into the field of coral reef  
monitoring.  As I get that kind of inquiry frequently, I though it might be  
useful to others if I put my reply on coral-list.  The courage is very  
patchy and I don't have all the complete references at hand.  However, the  
leads may be generally useful, and, to roughly paraphrase Charles Darwin, my  
colleagues may take great delight in pointing out the shortcomings.  Many  
apologies for all the important work that I left out. 
Dear Colleagues: 

To understand monitoring on reefs, you should look at its roots, which are  
in phytosociology.  The best summary is: 

Mueller-Dombois, D. and Ellenberg, H. 1974.  Aims and Methods of Vegetation  
Ecology. Wiley. 547 p. 

Other references include the historically important: 

Braun-Blanquet, J. 1932. Plant Sociology: the study of Plant Communities.  
Reprint 1983 Koeltz Scientific Books. P.O. Box 1360, D-6240 Koenigstein/West  

and the collection of papers in: 

McIntosh, R.P. 1978.  Phytosociology.  Benchmark Papers in Ecology V.6.  
Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 

You would want to look into the history of continuous vs discrete and releve  
vs. random approaches to community analysis in: 

McIntosh, R.P. (?). Background of Ecology. 

and from the system view in: 

Golley, F.B. 1993.  A history of the Ecosystem  Concept in Ecology.  Yale  
University Press.  New Haven. 254 p. 

There are several recent books on Plant Ecology, Community Ecology and  
Landscape Ecology that discuss sampling.  An important environmental  
sampling book is that of Roger Green. 

The line transect method for coral reefs was an application of a particular  
vegetation method.  It, and some other methods were reviewed in the green  
UNESCO book on Coral Reef Methods. 

There are several papers on errors associated with line transects in the  
ICRS volumes and Coral Reefs.  A nice statistical analysis of fish transects  

Samoilys, M.A. and Carlos, G. 1992. Development of an underwater visual  
census method for assessing shallow water reef fish stocks in the South West  
Pacific.  Final Report. ACIAR. (Available from the Department of Primary  
Industries, PO Box 1085, Townsville, Qld, 4810, Australia). 

McManus, J. discuss reef sampling in "Chapter 5. Coral Reef Fishery  
Sampling Methods" in the 1996 CRC book on "Stock Assessment:quantitative  
Methods and Applications for Small-Scale Fisheries" (Galluci eds.) 

The social science side of reef sampling and monitoring is less  
well-documented.  See chapters by Ruddle and by McManus in: 

Polunin, N.V.C. and Roberts, C.M. 1996. Reef Fisheries.  Chapman and Hall.  
London. 477 p. 

A fairly comprehensive manual for this kind of sampling by Richard Pollnac  
is in preparation.  It relates directly to ReefBase, covering about half of  
ReefBase's 250 tables.  An IUCN protocal has also been developed -- contact  
Ian Dight or Rodney Salm. 

Back on the ecological side, the ASEAN-Australian Manual is under revision.  
 Contact Clive Wilkinson. 

We have just drafted a ReefBase Aquanaut Manual aimed at volunteer divers.  
It will be out in a few months.  There are some good expedition protocols  
for volunteer divers available from several groups listed in the Greenpeace  
International Coral Reef NGO Directory. 

Be sure to look through past papers by Robert Johannes on how to interview  
to get ecological and  management information, starting with his book "Words  
of the Lagoon". 

Biochemical sampling is covered in the EIA literature and many articles. 

I have just listed a small part of a massive literature, emphasizing some  
sources which are oftern overlooked.  In particular, it is very important to  
know the history of the methods, in part to avoid re-living debates carried  
out in the 1920's to 1950's. 

Most of the methods we now use were developed to understand community  
structure or ecosystem function.  Both of these are useful in, but do not  
directly address, managing coral reefs.  The concerns in management are  
mostly Ecosystem Health, Risk Assessment, Impact Assessment, Impact  
Abatement, Multiobjective Optimization Cross-field Cross-sectoral Decision  
Analysis, and other aspects of Integrated Coastal Zone Management. 

The ecological side of monitoring nowadays (which can never be fully  
separated from the social science sides) is focused primarily on ecosystem  
health.  We are currently developing quantitative working definitions of  
coral reef ecosystem health which can be used to help focus both the  
sampling and the analysis of the data in monitoring programs.  If you want  
to get involved in that aspect, you might want to subscribe to the journal  
"Ecosystem Health" and read the book of the same title by Robert Costanza. 

Good luck! 


John W McManus 
ReefBase Project Leader 
ICLARM, Philippines 
email: J.McManus at 

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list