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Measuring coral size-frequency distribution using stereo video technology, a comparison with in situ measurements

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nick Polunin, Stuart Field, Dr Shaun Wilson


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Coral colony size-frequency distribution dataoffer valuable information about the ecological status ofcoral reefs. Such data are usually collected by divers insitu, but stereo video is being increasingly used formonitoring benthic marine communities and may beused to collect size information for coral colonies. Thisstudy compared the size-frequency distributions of coralcolonies obtained by divers measuring colonies ‘in situ’with digital video imagery collected using stereo videoand later processed using computer software. The sizefrequencydistributions of the two methods were similarfor corymbose colonies, although distributions weredifferent for massive, branching and all colonies combined.The differences are mainly driven by greaterabundance of colonies >50 cm and fewer colonies<10 cm recorded when using the in situ method. Thestereo video method detected 93 % of marked colonies>5 cm and was able to record measurements on 87 % ofthe colonies detected. However, stereo video only detected57 % of marked colonies <5 cm, suggesting thatthis method may be unsuitable for assessing abundanceof coral recruits. Estimates of colony size made with thestereo video were smaller than the in situ technique forall growth forms, particularly for massive morphologies.Despite differences in size distributions, communityassessments, which incorporated genera, growth formsand size, were similar between the two techniques.Stereo video is suitable for monitoring coral communitydemographics and provided data similar to in situ measurefor corymbose corals, but the ability to accuratelymeasure massive and branching coral morphologiesappeared to decline with increasing colony size.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Turner JA, Polunin NVC, Field SN, Wilson SK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Year: 2015

Volume: 187

Print publication date: 01/05/2015

Online publication date: 08/04/2015

Acceptance date: 12/03/2015

ISSN (print): 0167-6369

ISSN (electronic): 1573-2959

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10661-015-4431-8


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