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

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Frequently anticipated questions:


What does this data set describe?

Title:
St. John, USVI benthic habitat assessment and monitoring data (2001 - Present) using Rapid Habitat Assessment (RHA) 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 Rapid Habitat Assessment (RHA) 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 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)
    There are two RHA data collection methods to be utilitzed at each RHA site: cylinder RHA and transect RHA. The modified habitat survey is utilized to characterize areas within and nearby the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (VICR) boundaries. The RHA survey has the advantage of reducing bottom time at greater depths (i.e., sites below 80 ft). Site selection begins by stratifying NOAA's nearshore benthic habitat maps into predetermined habitat strata and monument boundaries. ArcGIS is then employed to randomly select sites within the hardbottom strata inside and outside the VICR boundaries. Using a handheld GPS unit, the boat captain navigates to the previously selected sites. Once on site, the transect and RHA divers are deployed. Fish transect diver follows a random compass bearing and swims in a straight line, collecting data along the 25m x 4m transect (details above). The fish transect diver does not deviate from a straight line unless changes in depth make it dangerous to continue. In this case, the diver will maintain a safe depth while continuing to collect data in an area equal to a straight-line 25m x 4m (100m2) transect. The habitat diver collects data along the 25m x 4m belt transect in 5 rectangular segments, each measuring 5m long by 4m wide (same area as transect). Each segment should take a maximum of 4 minutes (4 min x 5 segments = 20 min), allowing the habitat diver to finish closely behind the fish transect diver - continuing to meet the physiological parameters of repeatedly diving at Mid Shelf Reef and deep Coral Bay sites. If data are collected in less than 4 minutes, then the habitat diver moves to the next segment. Data are recorded in Q1 - Q5, on the flipside of the cylinder RHA data sheet. Q1 correlates with the first segment along the transect, Q2 the second segment, etc.

    The following information is recorded during the RHA transect survey:

    1) Dive logistics - name of the fish transect and habitat divers

    2) Dive logistics - station ID, date, and the start time of the survey.

    3) Habitat structure - the dive site is categorized based on the hierarchical classifaction used to produce the benthic habitat maps.

    4) Depth - minimum and maximum depth of each unit, to provide an estimate of bottom slope.

    5) Rugosity (low, medium, or high) - based on the height of the tallest hardbottom structure.

    6) Abiotic footprint - an estimate of % cover (within 5%) of hardbottom, sand, and rubble in each unit. The sum of % cover in each unit for the abiotic footprint must total 100%.

    7) Biotic footprint - an estimate of the % cover (within 1%) of live coral, gorgonians, sponges, macro algae, and uncolonized substrate in each 5m x 4m unit. The sum of % cover (including uncolonized substrate) in each unit in the biotic footprint must total 100%.

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

    9) 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.

    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/NOS/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)


Generated by mp version 2.9.13 on Thu Jul 31 10:41:26 2014