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To develop protocols for monitoring reef fish in the National Park Service's South Florida / Caribbean Network (SFCN).
The Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's Biogeography Branch in collaboration with the National Park Service, United States Geological Survey, National Marine Fisheries Service's Southeast Fisheries Science Center, University of Hawaii in Hilo and University of Miami developed a guide to monitor reef fish.
A single standardized monitoring protocol was not advocated because of the variability in ecological condition, size, management capability, and available data among SFCN park units. The monitoring guide serves as a framework for park managers and scientists on which to build a monitoring program using local resources and objectives. Three reef fish monitoring program case studies are provided which build upon the presented framework using park-specific data sets, management concerns, and local partnerships.
The guide outlines the methods required to create or enhance a reef fish monitoring program within areas monitored by the SFCN, including the Virgin Islands National Park, Biscayne National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Dry Tortugas National Park, Big Cyprus National Park, Everglades National Park and Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve. The framework is expected to be applicable to other areas as well, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.
The favored approach is characterized by an iterative process of data collection, dataset integration, sampling design analysis, and population and community assessment that evaluates resource risks associated with management policies. Using this model, a monitoring program can adapt its survey methods to increase accuracy and precision of survey estimates as new information becomes available, and adapt to the evolving needs and broadening responsibilities of park management. Information acquired from monitoring is intended to aid management decisions aimed to maintain, enhance, or restore the ecological integrity of reef fish communities.
Photos of underwater survey techniques. Click images to enlarge.
|Photos: CCMA Biogeography Branch
Completed: May 2004 - November 2006
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