Long Term Monitoring

Rapid Assessment



Reference Site & Habitat Class Analogy
Reference Conditions
Reference Site Analysis
Reference Site Limitations
Classification of Habitats
Index of Biological Integrity
Hydrogeomorphic Model
Indicator Statistical Methods
Indicator Results





Search the CRAMP Website

Navigate the CRAMP Website

Bibliographic Search

CRAMP Rapid Assessment. Reference Conditions

Coral reef research has failed to establish the biological integrity necessary for well-defined frameworks that can compare changes at impaired sites. These reference conditions provide a standard against which impaired conditions can be evaluated. They consist of physical, chemical or biological conditions at unimpacted or minimally impacted sites that are representative of sites with the same classification within that region. This status provides a baseline “with the ability to support and maintain a balanced, integrated and adaptive community of organisms having a species composition, diversity and functional organization comparable to those of natural habitats within a region” (Karr and Chu 1999). In establishing reference standards, biological parameters or characteristics of the environment that respond to human perturbation are measured. Establishing standards of reference are basic to the development of biological indicators. These reference conditions provide a baseline and also function as sites for future use in long-term monitoring efforts to detect declining conditions on reefs.

Minimally impacted areas such as Molokini Island, off Maui are often selected as reference sites to provide a standard against which impacted conditions are compared.


Karr J.R.and Chu E.W. 1999. Restoring Life in Running Waters: Better Biological Monitoring. Island Press, Washington, DC. 206 pp.


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