[Coral-List] new publication comparing REEF Roving Diver method to Transect Surveys for Fish Biodiversity

Osmar Luiz osmarluizjr at gmail.com
Mon Apr 1 02:02:05 EDT 2013

Dear Christy,

Thanks for let us know about this paper. It was sort of expected that the roving diver technique yields a higher number of species than the traditional belt transects because their were designed for different ends. Belt transects are made for quantitative surveys of fish abundance whereas the roving diver technique aims to detect the higher number of species as possible, with the diver free to seek within crevices and reef overhangs, often overlooked in belt transects.

So, because of these different aims, I wonder what is the usefulness of such comparison. I confess that I didn't read the paper yet, but I plan to do it soon. I'm expecting to find there some discussion on other issues associated with REEF's surveys, such the comparisons of both methods for studies of fish populations declines and the accuracy of volunteers' identifications of small fishes like gobies and blennies which is trick to do in the field, even for seasoned ichthyologists.

Best wishes

Osmar J. Luiz 
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Biological Sciences
Macquarie University
Sydney, NSW, 2109

Doctoral Fellow
Sydney Institute of Marine Science
Building 22 Chowder Bay Road
Sydney, NSW

e-mail: osmarluizjr at gmail.com
phone: +612 98506271
mobile: +61 0420817392
Publications list: http://publicationslist.org/osmar.luiz

On 30/03/2013, at 4:36 AM, Christy Semmens wrote:

> We are excited to share a new scientific paper published earlier this month in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution that reports marine fish surveys conducted by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) citizen scientists compare well with traditional scientific methods when it comes to monitoring species biodiversity. The findings of the research, conducted by Dr. Ben Holt from University of East Angila in the UK, give weight to the growing phenomenon of citizen science programs such as REEF's Volunteer Survey Project. The field study compared methods used by REEF volunteer divers with those used by professional scientists to measure the variety of fish species in three Caribbean sites in the Turks and Caicos. The divers surveyed the sites using two methods – the 'belt transect', used in peer reviewed fish diversity studies, and the 'roving diver technique', used by REEF volunteers. Two teams of 12 divers made 144 separate underwater surveys across the sites over four weeks. While the traditional scientific survey revealed sightings of 106 different types of fish, the volunteer technique detected greater marine diversity with a total of 137 in the same waters. Dr Holt led the research in partnership with the Centre for Marine Resource Studies in the Caribbean and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He said: "The results of this study are important for the future of citizen science and the use of data collected by these programs. Very few, if any, scientific groups can collect data on the scale that volunteer groups can, so our proof that both methods return consistent results is very encouraging for citizen science in general. We're living in a world that's changing very significantly. Environmental changes are having a big impact on ecosystems around us so we need to harness new ways of measuring the effect. Our study demonstrates the quality of data collected using a volunteer method can match, and in some respects exceed, protocols used by professional scientists."  The full paper, entitled "Comparing Diversity Data Collected Using a Protocol Designed for Volunteers with Results from a Professional Alternative", is available online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/2041-210X.12031/pdf
> To see a complete list of papers and reports that have included REEF data, visit http://www.REEF.org/db/publications
> Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D.
> Director of Science
> Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
> www.REEF.org
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> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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