St. John, USVI benthic habitat assessment and monitoring data (2001 - Present) using fine-scale survey methodology: 2011 (NODC Accession 0088018)

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What does this data set describe?

Title:
St. John, USVI benthic habitat assessment and monitoring data (2001 - Present) using fine-scale survey methodology: 2011 (NODC Accession 0088018)
Abstract:
This fish and benthic composition database is the result of a multifaceted effort described below.

The intent of this work is five fold: 1) To spatially characterize and monitor the distribution, abundance, and size of both reef fishes and macro-invertebrates (conch, lobster, Diadema); 2) To relate this information to in-situ data collected on associated benthic composition parameters; 3) To use this information to establish the knowledge base necessary for enacting management decisions in a spatial setting; 4) To establish the efficacy of those management decisions; and 5) To work with the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program to develop data collection standards and easily implemented methodologies for transference to other agencies and to work toward standardizing data collection throughout the US states and territories. Toward this end, the Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's Biogeography Branch (BB) has been conducting research in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands since 2000 and 2001, respectively. It is critical, with recent changes in management at both locations (e.g. implementation of MPAs) as well as proposed changes (e.g. zoning to manage multiple human uses) that action is taken now to accurately describe and characterize the fish/macro-invertebrate populations in these areas. It is also important that BB work closely with the individuals responsible for recommending and implementing these management strategies. Recognizing this, BB has been collaborating with partners at the University of Puerto Rico, National Park Service, US Geological Survey and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

To quantify patterns of spatial distribution and make meaningful interpretations, we must first have knowledge of the underlying variables determining species distribution. The basis for this work therefore, is the nearshore benthic habitats maps (less than 100 ft depth) created by NOAA's Biogeography Program in 2001 and NOS' bathymetry models. Using ArcView GIS software, the digitized habitat maps are stratified to select sampling stations. Sites are randomly selected within these strata to ensure coverage of the entire study region and not just a particular reef or seagrass area. At each site, fish, macro-invertebrates, and benthic composition information is then quantified following standardized protocols. By relating the data collected in the field back to the habitat maps and bathymetric models, BB is able to model and map species level and community level information. These protocols are standardized throughout the US Caribbean to enable quantification and comparison of reef fish abundance and distribution trends between locations. Armed with the knowledge of where "hot spots" of species richness and diversity are likely to occur in the seascape, the BB is in a unique position to answer questions about the efficacy of marine zoning strategies (e.g. placement of no fishing, anchoring, or snorkeling locations), and what locations are most suitable for establishing MPAs. Knowledge of the current status of fish/macro-invertebrate communities coupled with longer term monitoring will enable evaluation of management efficacy, thus it is essential to future management actions.

Supplemental_Information:
This work is being conducted in collaboration with the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
  1. How should this data set be cited?

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)/National Ocean Service (NOS)/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)/Center for Coastal Ocean Science (CCMA)/Biogeography Branch, 20111219, St. John, USVI benthic habitat assessment and monitoring data (2001 - Present) using fine-scale survey methodology: 2011 (NODC Accession 0088018): NOAA's Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Silver Spring, MD.

    Online Links:

  2. What geographic area does the data set cover?

    West_Bounding_Coordinate: -64.84
    East_Bounding_Coordinate: -64.66
    North_Bounding_Coordinate: 18.38
    South_Bounding_Coordinate: 18.23

  3. What does it look like?

  4. Does the data set describe conditions during a particular time period?

    Beginning_Date: Jul-2001
    Ending_Date: Present
    Currentness_Reference: Ground Condition

  5. What is the general form of this data set?

  6. How does the data set represent geographic features?

    1. How are geographic features stored in the data set?

    2. What coordinate system is used to represent geographic features?

      Horizontal positions are specified in geographic coordinates, that is, latitude and longitude. Latitudes are given to the nearest 0.00001. Longitudes are given to the nearest 0.00001. Latitude and longitude values are specified in Decimal Degrees.

  7. How does the data set describe geographic features?

    Entity_and_Attribute_Overview:
    We supply percent cover, relative abundance, size, and composition of benthic communities. This information is collected across all nearshore habitat types. In addition, we provide photographs of many of the taxa. For specific information please see the data dictionary available on the database website.
    Entity_and_Attribute_Detail_Citation: NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch


Who produced the data set?

  1. Who are the originators of the data set? (may include formal authors, digital compilers, and editors)

  2. Who also contributed to the data set?

    This is a cooperative effort between NOAA's Biogeography Branch, the National Park Service, and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

  3. To whom should users address questions about the data?

    NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch
    Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Manager
    1305 East-West Hwy. (SSMC4, N/SCI-1)
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
    USA

    301-713-3028 (voice)
    kimberly.roberson@noaa.gov

    Hours_of_Service: 9:00 - 5:00


Why was the data set created?

1) To spatially characterize and monitor the distribution, abundance, and size of both reef fishes and macro-invertebrates (conch, lobster, Diadema); 2) To relate this information to in-situ data collected on associated benthic composition parameters; 3) To use this information to establish the knowledge base necessary for enacting management decisions in a spatial setting; 4) To establish the efficacy of those management decisions; and 5) To work with the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program to develop data collection standards and easily implemented methodologies for transference to other agencies and to work toward standardizing data collection throughout the US states and territories.


How was the data set created?

  1. From what previous works were the data drawn?

  2. How were the data generated, processed, and modified?

    Date: Not Complete (process 1 of 1)
    Once on site, divers are deployed and maintain contact with each other throughout the entire census. One diver is responsible for collecting data on the benthic composition. The habitat diver follows the belt-transect diver and records data on small-scale benthic habitat composition and structure along the 25m transect. The habitat diver places a 1m2 quadrat divided into 100 (10 x 10cm) smaller squares (1 square equals 1 percent cover) at five separate positions. Each position is randomly chosen before entering the water such that there is one random point within every 5m interval along the transect. Percent cover is obtained as if looking at the quadrat in a two dimensional plane (i.e. a photograph) vs. three dimensions where percent cover could add up to greater than 100%.

    Data are collected on the following: 1) Logistic information - diver name, dive buddy, date, time of survey, site code, and meter numbers at which the quadrat is placed.

    2) Habitat structure - to characterize the benthic habitats of the dive site, the habitat diver first categorizes the habitat structure of the site: hard, soft or mangrove.

    3) Proximity of structure - on seagrass and sand sites, the habitat diver records the absence or presence of reef or hard structure within 3m of the belt transect. A score of zero (0) indicates that no reef or other hard structure is present; one (1) indicates that a reef or hard structure smaller than 4m2 is present; and (2) indicates that a reef or hard structure larger than 4m2 is present within 3m of the diver. The point-count diver also uses this scoring system to record the absence, presence, and proximity of reef or hard structures within their cylinder.

    4) Transect depth profile - the depth at each quadrat position. Depth is measured with a digital depth gauge to the nearest 1ft.

    5) Abiotic footprint - defined as the percent cover (to the nearest 1 percent) of sand, rubble, hard bottom, and fine sediments within each quadrat position. Rubble refers to rocks and coral fragments that are moveable; immovable rocks are considered hard bottom. The percent cover given as a part of the abiotic footprint should total 100 percent. In a seagrass area for example, despite the fact that seagrass may provide 50 percent cover, the underlying substrate is 100 percent sand so this is what is recorded. To estimate percent cover, the habitat diver first positions the quadrat at the chosen meter mark along the transect tape. If the meter mark is an odd number, then the quadrat is placed on the left side of the tape; if even, it is placed on the right. Next, the habitat diver lays the quadrat along the substrate (regardless of the slope) and estimates percent cover based on a two-dimensional (planar) view (e.g. if bottom is sloping, the quadrat is not held horizontally). Also, the diver should try to use the same planar view for all estimates of percent cover. The habitat diver then estimates, for each quadrat, the height (in cm) of the hardbottom from the substrate to get a sense of bottom relief. Note: Height is collected for all hardbottom substrates, excluding rubble; height is not collected for softbottom substrate.

    6) Biotic footprint - defined as the percent cover (to the nearest 0.1 percent) of algae, seagrass, live corals, sponges, gorgonians, and other biota (tunicates, anemones, zooanthids, and hydroids) within each quadrat position. The remaining cover is recorded as bare substrate to bring the total to 100 percent. Again, the diver must use a planar view to estimate percent cover of the biota. Seagrasses and gorgonians should not be stacked upright. For example, if a single seagrass blade crosses 10 squares, then total seagrass coverage should be the sum of the area taken up by that blade in all 10 squares instead of the area covered if the blade was held upright. Species covering less than 0.1 percent of the area are not recorded. Taxa are identified to the following levels: stony coral-species, algae-morphological group (macro, turf, crustose, rhodolith, filamentous, cyanobacteria), sponge-morphological group, and gorgonians-morphological group. When estimating percent cover, it is important to realize there is a balance between precision and time. For stony corals, the approximate area covered by living coral tissue is recorded. Coral skeleton (without living tissue) is usually categorized as turf algae or uncolonized substrate. Data on the condition of coral colonies are also recorded. When coral is noticeably bleached, the entire colony is considered affected and is recorded to the nearest 0.1 percent. Coral colonies are reported as entirely bleached if they contain any portion of white, blotchy, mottled, or pale tissue. This protocol assumes stress throughout the colony and estimates maximum bleaching impact. Diseased/dead coral refers to coral skeleton that has recently lost living tissue because of disease or damage that is still visible, and has not yet been colonized by turf algae. Turf algae include a mix of short (less than 1cm high) algae that colonize dead coral substrate.

    7) Maximum canopy height - for each soft biota type (e.g., gorgonians, seagrass, algae), structure is recorded to the nearest 1cm at the quadrat level.

    8) Number of individuals - for sponges, gorgonians and "other" biota type (non-encrusting anemones and non-encrusting hydroids) the number of individuals at the quadrat level is recorded.

    9) Rugosity - measured by placing a 6-m chain at two randomly selected positions along the 25m belt transect. The chain is placed such that it follows the substrate's relief along the centerline of the belt transect. Two divers measure the straight-line horizontal distance covered by the chain. The chain is placed on top of any hard substrate encountered, but not on top of soft corals or sponges since we are measuring hard bottom rugosity. Data on rugosity are collected for reef sites only. Rugosity measurements typically are made by the point-count and belt-transect divers while awaiting the completion of other benthic habitat measurements by the habitat diver. Upon completion of the dive, the rugosity data are transferred from the fish data sheet to the habitat data sheet by the habitat diver.

    10) Abundance and maturity of queen conchs (Strombus gigas) - a count of the total number of conch encountered within the 25 x 4m belt transect are enumerated. The maturity of each conch is determined by the presence or absence of a flared lip and labeled mature or immature, respectively. If conch abundance is counted by a fish diver, the data are then reported to the habitat diver. The decision of who will collect conch data should be made prior to entering the water.

    11) Abundance of spiny lobsters (Panilaurus argus) - a count of the total number of lobsters encountered within the 25 x 4m belt transect. No measurements are taken. If lobster abundance is counted by a fish diver, the data are then reported to the habitat diver. The decision of who will collect lobster data should be made prior to entering the water.

    12) Abundance of long-spined urchin (Diadema antillarum) - a count of the total number of urchins encountered within the 25 x 4m belt transect. No measurements are taken. If urchin abundance is counted by a fish diver, the data are then reported to the habitat diver. The decision of who will collect urchin data should be made prior to entering the water.

    NOTE: If rugosity, conch, lobster or urchin data are collected by a fish diver, data must be transferred to the habitat data sheet. The habitat diver is responsible for transferring the data to their data sheet; however, the fish diver should assist the habitat diver with this task by reporting the data once the dive concludes.

    13) Marine debris - type of marine debris within the transect is noted. The size of the marine debris and the area of affected habitat is also recorded along with a note identifying any flora or fauna that has colonized the debris.

    14) Acropora presence - mark if A. palmata or A. cervicornis are seen along the transect or at the site.

    15) Photography - the point count or habitat diver will take at least two photos in different directions at each site to maintain an anecdotal and permanent visual description of the sites that were sampled. Proper care and maintenance is necessary for all camera and camera housings. It is important to maintain the cameras and housings before, after and in between dives.

    Data Caveats: Overtime, some changes were made to the stratified random site selection process as follows: 1) Habitat strata initially consisted of hard bottom, sand, and seagrass. Sand and seagrass strata were subsequently combined into one soft bottom strata at all three locations (Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. John). This action was taken after the February 2002 mission to Puerto Rico. 2) During the first mission to St. John samples were also stratified by depth (less than or equal to 40 ft or greater than 40 ft). 3) In 2007, algae data collection changed from identification of each alga to the genus level to grouping algae into six morphological groups: macro, turf, crustose, filamentous, rhodolith, and cyanobacteria for more efficient data collection. 4) Shelter characteristics ceased being recorded at the end of 2006. 5) Marine debris data collection began in July 2007.

    Although the 1m-square-quadrat remained the basic method of choice for habitat data collection, overtime, changes in data collection methods were made for some habitat variables and several additional variables were added. These changes were deemed necessary to capture more precise information and as many variables as possible to explain better the observed variability in reef fish assemblage metrics. Detailed information on all changes to the protocols for collecting habitat data in St. John can be found at: <http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/ecosystems/corealreef/reef_fish/protocols.html>

    Process Date - 200107 - Present

  3. What similar or related data should the user be aware of?


How reliable are the data; what problems remain in the data set?

  1. How well have the observations been checked?

  2. How accurate are the geographic locations?

  3. How accurate are the heights or depths?

  4. Where are the gaps in the data? What is missing?

    These data consist of multiple fish community surveys across all nearshore marine habitats around St. John, US Virgin Islands. Sites were randomly selected and stratified across by habitat types using NOAA's benthic habitat maps of St. John, USVI.

  5. How consistent are the relationships among the observations, including topology?

    Not applicable


How can someone get a copy of the data set?

Are there legal restrictions on access or use of the data?

Access_Constraints: None
Use_Constraints:
Please reference NOAA/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch when utilizing these data in a report or peer reviewed publication. Additionally, knowledge of how this dataset has been of use and which organizations are utilizing it is of great benefit for ensuring this information continues to meet the needs of the management and research communities. Therefore, it is requested but not mandatory, that any user of this data supply this information to the Program Manager: Kimberly Roberson (email: Kimberly.roberson@noaa.gov).

  1. Who distributes the data set? (Distributor 1 of 1)

    NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch
    Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Database Manager
    1305 East-West Hwy. (SSMC4, N/SCI-1)
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
    USA

    301-713-3028 (voice)
    tom.mcgrath@noaa.gov

    Hours_of_Service: 9:00 - 5:00
  2. What's the catalog number I need to order this data set?

    Downloadable data

  3. What legal disclaimers am I supposed to read?

    These data were prepared by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, make any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference therein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. Any views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof. Although all data have been used by NOAA, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made by NOAA as to the accuracy of the data and/or related materials. The act of distribution shall not constitute any such warranty, and no responsibility is assumed by NOAA in the use of these data or related materials.

  4. How can I download or order the data?


Who wrote the metadata?

Dates:
Last modified: 20-Dec-2012
Last Reviewed: 16-Feb-2012
Metadata author:
NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Branch
Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Manager
1305 East-West Hwy. (SSMC4, N/SCI-1)
Silver Spring, MD 20910
USA

301-713-3028 (voice)
kimberly.roberson@noaa.gov

Hours_of_Service: 9:00 - 5:00
Metadata standard:
Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (FGDC-STD-001-1998)


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