Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Monitoring Season: REDUX!

Monitored areas
Data logger
“So, what’s been happening with the long-term coral reef monitoring program lately?”

I’m glad you asked! Dave Burdick already gave you the low-down on the monitoring program, so now it’s time to give you a little more specific information on what we’re up to for this year. As the monitoring season quickly approaches, we find ourselves finishing up our analysis of data collected during the 2010 and 2011 monitoring seasons and assessing which types of additional reef health data we may be able to collect this year. As a variety of reef health indicators (mentioned in Dave’s blog post) have already been established within the program, it is time to add-on!

With the procurement of two multi-parameter data loggers, several types of water quality data will be collected starting with this year’s monitoring activities. Turbidity (the cloudiness of a fluid caused by individual particles), dissolved oxygen (the amount of oxygen dissolved in a medium, i.e. seawater), pH (the measure of acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution), conductivity (a way to indirectly measure salinity), and temperature will be collected at multiple locations across all monitoring sites, but with the installation of data loggers at two, possibly three, sites, data will be collected continuously for several months in these areas. The collection of water quality data, along with the continued collection of benthic habitat and fish community data, will allow us to better understand how these environmental
factors affect reef health on Guam.

Another type of data which we plan on collecting starting this year is rugosity. Rugosity is a measurement of the variations in height of a surface and is used to determine benthic complexity in coral reef monitoring. Certain corals are often associated with areas of high rugosity or complexity. These areas with high complexity have also been found to be associated with higher fish abundance and diversity. Once we collect this rugosity data, we can analyze how our reef structure is related to our fish communities and when changes occur in one, how it may affect the other.

In addition to adding on to the types of data we are collecting, we are also adding on to the number of sites surveyed. To date, we have surveyed two reef areas on the western side (Tumon Bay and East Agana) and one in Apra Harbor (Western Shoals). We are planning on adding at least one more site on the western side, Piti Bay, as well as two sites along the southern coast. Tumon and Piti are Marine Protected Areas and monitoring these areas over time should give us a better idea of how they are functioning as MPAs (i.e. increased fish stocks and the return of top predators).

With all the new additions it’s bound to be an exciting monitoring season. Stay tuned to see what we find in the coming months!

Posted by
Roxanna Miller
2:49 pm

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Location: Hagatna, Guam

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