[Coral-List] Reliable coral reef stats

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Sep 17 15:37:51 EDT 2013

I believe there is also a volunteer system in which ships of all sorts take
sea surface temperature readings and send them in.  Huge database.

On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 6:24 AM, John McManus <jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu>wrote:

> Yes, Reef Check is a remarkable program and the only existing source of
> data
> from around the world which uses a standard sampling approach.
> It is largely forgotten today, but most of the data on currents, contours
> and bottom types on US charts up until at least 1950 (and much of it until
> more recently) came from a volunteer program set up in the 19th century by
> Lt. Mathew Maury. If you annotated a chart and sent it in, you would
> receive
> in exchange the latest version. Like Wikipedia, if someone got something
> wrong, someone else would correct it. Lots of software systems, including
> server software, and made that way today. Volunteer programs are extremely
> important, and Reef Check is a prime example.
> I do think there is a pressing need for a global system of reef systems
> under more intensive, coordinated study, so that we can better understand
> how these ecosystems are responding to change in terms of ecological and
> socio-economic processes, so that we can distinguish among the impacts of
> types of stressors (such as acidification), and so that we have a better
> basis for understanding the near future of coral reefs. However, we still
> need something like Reef Check to understand the global implications of all
> this.
> Cheers!
> John
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Gregor
> Hodgson
> Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 6:09 PM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Reliable coral reef stats
> Since 1997, Reef Check has carried out a global monitoring program of coral
> reefs using a standardized method based on about 30 indicators including
> living coral and recently killed coral, bleached and diseased coral. Prior
> to 2005, Reef Check teams were trained and led by Masters or PhD level
> scientists who were responsible for field level Q & A. Since 2005, all Reef
> Check data has been collected by individuals who have been through a formal
> training program, tested and certified to collect data.  In fact about 75%
> of the data has always been collected by research scientists because Reef
> Check methods have been adopted by many countries and research institutes
> as
> part of their core monitoring program. Independent researchers such as John
> Bruno et al., have used the database for local and regional meta analyses.
> The database is available to any researcher. Our WRAS online coral reef
> database has been taken offline to transition it from a GIS to a Google
> Earth platform, and to merge it with our California NED online rocky reef
> database. http://ned.reefcheck.org/ An analysis of the 15-year coral reef
> dataset is due out in 2014. For a list of peer reviewed and other technical
> publications based on or related to Reef Check data please see:
> http://reefcheck.org/about_RC_Reef/Publications.php
> Reef Check offers regular training programs throughout the world using our
> local coordinators. If you think it is important to track coral reefs
> during
> the next 20 years of global warming, please contact rcinfo at reefcheck.orgto
> arrange a training or if you would like to help coordinate surveys in a
> country where we do not have a coordinator.
> I am noticing two problems when researchers try to compare baselines now
> with pre-1980s data:
> 1. there is a shifting baseline in new cohorts of coral reef researchers
> who
> have a hard time understanding what reefs actually were like 40 years ago,
> but typically have not read the old descriptive literature from pre-1970s
> such as Saville-Kent that provide exceedingly detailed descriptions of what
> the shallow reefs were like; 2. a problem with meta-analyses that do not
> take into account the fact that in 2013, there are no "zero coral cover"
> data from former reefs or zones of reefs that are no longer reefs because
> they experienced 100% die off and so researchers no longer monitor them.
> Some former reef zones that were populated by Acropora palmata can still be
> seen, as the dead skeletons are still in place, but those formerly
> populated
> by the more fragile A.
> cervicornis are often simply gone. This means that the current regional and
> global coral cover estimates are probably underestimating the decline as
> researchers no longer include reefs that died and have not recovered.
> Gregor Hodgson, PhD
> Executive Director
> Reef Check Foundation
> PO Box 1057 (mail)
> 17575 Pacific Coast Highway (overnight)
> Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 USA
> T: +1 310-230-2371 or 2360
> Gregorh at reefcheck.org
> Skype: gregorh001
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