Each month, Reef Check will answer a technical question regarding the monitoring protocol of our coral reef or rocky reef programs. If you have a question you would like answered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reef Check Tropical - Why are the ‘best’ sites chosen for the survey?
Site selection is a critical factor in the success of Reef Check. One goal of Reef Check is to test the null hypothesis that there are reefs that are not affected significantly by human impacts. In addition, we want information on the geographic distribution of various types of human impacts on all reefs. For this reason, Reef Check teams that can only survey one site should survey the "best" site they have access to in terms of least likely to have been affected by human impacts such as fishing, pollution, etc. Such a site should have high living hard coral cover, and dense fish and mobile invertebrate populations.
For groups willing and able to survey multiple sites, then we suggest choosing two or more additional sites representative of moderate and heavy human impacts. In this manner, we can build up a picture of the distribution of human impacts on a cross section of reef.
With all site selection, however, it is important to remember that a survey is only a sample of the coral reef environment. If you are interested in the health of an entire reef, you will need to set up a number of Reef Check survey sites at a number of locations.