Three methods of evaluating stony coral communities were used on selected reefs in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (24°22′N, 77°30′W) in the central Bahamas. Shallow reefs (< 4 meters depth) were selected from aerial surveys based on size, location, and physical setting, and grouped into three community types: (1) channel patch reefs, (2) soft-coral-sponge patch reefs and (3) fringing reefs. Three survey techniques used to evaluate the stony coral communities were a) species presence and absence lists, b) linear percentage and c) line transects using 1 mx1 m grids. Data collected from these survey methods was used to calculate coral colony density, species area coverage, and species diversity based on colony number and based on linear (cm) coral cover. The linear percentage sampling was considered too convervative in determining distribution patterns of a reef community; this technique takes into account the massive reef framework species such as M. annularis. The line transect technique can account for both colony number and area coverage, thus is a better method for characterizing reef communities. Sample size considerations are discussed for future applications of survey techniques for ground-truthing digital images of small, shallow reef communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science