Biosphere | Vegetation | Macroalgae
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Reef Life Survey is a program that trains and assists a network of skilled and committed recreational divers to cost-effectively assess the state of the inshore marine environment at the continental scale. The program uses standardised underwater visual census methods employed by SCUBA divers to survey fish and invertebrate species and to record macroalgal and coral cover using photo quadrats - this record refers to the website for this program. By standardising techniques and establishing a monitoring system on a nation-wide scale, the program addresses many of the current problems associated with managing the marine environment, including the paucity, patchiness and variable quality of data on the distribution of and trends to marine biodiversity. A central database is managed for the storage, analysis and dissemination of data collected nationally, with a publicly-accessible web-based portal. The website allows information collected on Australia's marine environment to be accessed in a meaningful form by policy-makers and the general public, including recreational groups, scientists and industry. It also has information and resources for particpating divers and those wishing to become involved. The dataset generated by recreational divers will provide a national framework for monitoring the state of the inshore environment and the identification of those threats and locations of greatest conservation concern. This record points to the online resource for Reef Life Survey: http://www.reeflifesurvey.com/
The data is quantitative abundance of fish and megafaunal invertebrates and algal % cover derived from transect based counts at a wide range of locations across Temperate Australia. The methods are described in detail in Edgar and Barrett (1997). Primarily the data are derived from transects at 5 m depth and/or 10 m depth at each site surveyed. Methods were initially developed for research on temporal changes following protection in Tasmanian MPAs (Maria Is, Tinderbox, Ninepin Point, Governor Island). Further research has collected data in Tasmania, in MPA planning surveys (e.g. St Helens, Waterhouse Region, Low Head, Lillico Beach, Rocky Cape), an oil spill assessment (Low Head), and in studies and surveys in new Tasmania MPAs (Port Davey and the Kent Group). The data represented by this record was collected in MPA planning surveys and for opportunistic surveys such as the Low Head oil spill assessment. In many cases the dataset involved temporal replication (year scale).
Linear video transects (40m total length; 20m into barrens and 20m into kelp from original fixed marker on the benthos) were used to assess changes in kelp growth in several points along the kelp - urchin barren interface in north-east Tasmania (St. Helens Island, Sloop Rock and Elephant Rock research areas). The video transects were deployed in the same position, and assessed at different points of time. The video was analysed in the laboratory to assess percentage of kelp and barren cover, as well as the kind of substratum, kelp species identifiable and number of sea urchins (Centrostephanus rodgerii and Heliocidaris erythrogramma) and other benthic organisms when present (rock lobster and abalone).