Invitation to Special Session on Science, Monitoring and Management

Gregor Hodgson rcgregor at
Fri Dec 11 22:56:01 EST 1998

Invitation to a one day Special Session on the question: How can we use
good science as a basis for monitoring programs that serve management?

International Conference on Scientific Aspects of Coral Reef 
Assessment, Monitoring, and Restoration 14-16 April 1999 Ft. Lauderdale,

Session Co-chairs: Clive Wilkinson and Gregor Hodgson; Coordinators
GCRMN/Reef Check

Rationale: Monitoring is a very time consuming and expensive
proposition. Many scientists seem to assume that governments should
automatically understand why large amounts of resources should be
devoted to coral reef monitoring. But they don't. When governments are
faced with the question of how much resource they can afford to put into
monitoring, as opposed to say hospitals and roads, they need to have
some assurance that the product of the monitoring is useful and that it
is based on good science.

In the long-term, if humans are going to attempt to manage our use of
coral reefs, some level of 
monitoring will be needed to check whether management actions are
effective. Coral reef monitoring programs have been designed for a
variety of reasons and by people from varying backgrounds. The largest
is the GCRMN/Reef Check network, and there are many other programs at
individual parks and reefs. We would like to invite papers that address
the question of how well current and planned monitoring programs are
serving management at any scale. Subsidiary questions could include:

How do managers determine what they need to know to manage?
Are the right people (scientists or managers or bureaucrats or lawyers)
designing monitoring programs?
Is monitoring based on science or whim?
Is the use of key indicators valid? 
If so, what key bioindicators should we be using in your area that have
been ignored? 
How much do you need to know before you can tell that a reef is "sick?"
What is a sick reef? 
Is natural variability so great in fish populations that monitoring
cannot detect subtle changes?
How often should different groups of organisms e.g. fish, corals, algae
be monitored to detect significant change?
Are data on coral growth forms useful management tools?
What does partial mortality of corals mean for a manager? 
What level of change in reef parameters should trigger a management
The list of possible management actions is limited: does monitoring
produce excessive data?
What data do managers wish they had?
How to integrate socioeconomic data collection into monitoring?
How to check the validity of socioeconomic information?
Is gathering a globally comparable data set an important priority or an
unaffordable luxury?
How well is your monitoring program serving management?

If you would like to participate in this Special Session, please
register for the conference and contact either of the Co-chairs. In
particular, we encourage GCRMN/Reef Check participants from the Americas
and Caribbean region to get involved in this session, as many were not
able to attend ITMEMS. While an abstract submission deadline has been
requested, you should send your abstract immediately to be sure to be

Clive Wilkinson <c.wilkinson at>
Gregor Hodgson <rcgregor at>

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