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CRAMP Site Survey Protocols

Two types of protocol are utilized by CRAMP: Monitoring Protocol and the Rapid Assessment Technique (RAT). The RAT is simply an abbreviated version of the Monitoring Protocol and is a rapid method for describing spatial relationships. The RAT lacks the statistical power of the Monitoring Protocol to detect change in the benthos, but is a more cost-effective method for answering certain questions on the status of coral reefs.

Monitoring Protocol - General Description

Installing the fixed monitoring sites is a process that was generally completed by a team of four to six divers during a single dive. All primary sites have been installed. The initial monitoring of a given site was generally initiated at some time after installation. More detail on installation is discussed under the section on Benthic Monitoring. Upon reaching an established monitoring site a number of tasks must be performed. CRAMP generally surveys one site (3 m and 10 m transect locations at each site) per day with a team of 4-6 divers. Typically, the deeper site is surveyed in the morning, the shallow site in the afternoon after a proper surface interval. The beginning of the transect is located by visual lineups and/or GPS by skin divers and marked with a dive flag to alert boaters of our presence and enable quick location by the divers. Subsequent SCUBA teams entering the water take materials needed for the survey (spooled transect tapes, rugosity chain, digital camera equipped with lights, photo-quadrat apparatus, extra marker pins, etc) and deposit the material near the start of the transect for use by the teams during the dive.

The first SCUBA team to enter the water consists of two divers: the person doing the fish survey and a back-up diver who stays within visual range and photographs the fixed photo-quadrats as the fish survey proceeds. Estimates of fish species richness, abundance, and biomass are taken before the benthic transect lines are laid out so as to sample a relatively undisturbed habitat. The standard CRAMP fish transect is taken along a depth contour within the CRAMP grid of benthic transects, and consists of four, 5x25m transects that are separated by 5m. The scientist doing the fish survey, counts fish while deploying a 25 m line behind him/her. As the survey proceeds, two more SCUBA divers enter the water. One of the pair deploys the transect tapes and records species information on the corals/algae located along each transect for later reference while the second diver starts taking digital images of the replicate benthic transects. The third team of two divers follows the digital camera team and measures rugosity (topographic relief) under the 10 replicate transects. Upon completion of the fish transects, the first dive team completes the photo-quadrats at five randomly selected locations within the grid that are revisited at on subsequent surveys. As other teams complete their work they return to the start of the transect and begin taking up the transect tapes.

During the survey, various divers complete additional functions. These include taking sediment samples, stabilizing or replacing loose transect pins, routine photography of organisms, description of habitats, making algae collections or various activities.

The same procedure is carried out at the shallow site during the afternoon. In addition, at various times of the day (depending on time availability) two members of the group will skin dive with a dive flag and water proof GPS unit while describing and recording habitat distribution throughout the study site for later mapping efforts.

Assessment Protocol - General Description

This method does not involve placement of permanent markers, does not utilize photo-quadrats and involves fewer benthic transects. See Rapid Assessment Technique for a more detailed description.

 

Last Update: 04/21/2008

By: Lea Hollingsworth

Hawai‘i Coral Reef Assessment & Monitoring Program

Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology

P.O. Box 1346

Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744

808-236-7440 phone

808-236-7443 fax

email: jokiel@hawaii.edu