A citizen science approach: a detailed ecological assessment of subtropical reefs at Point Lookout, Australia

Roelfsema, Chris, Thurstan, Ruth, Beger, Maria, Dudgeon, Christine, Loder, Jennifer, Kovacs, Eva, Gallo, Michele, Flower, Jason, Gomez Cabrera, K-Le, Ortiz, Juan, Lea, Alexandra and Kleine, Diana 2016, A citizen science approach: a detailed ecological assessment of subtropical reefs at Point Lookout, Australia, PLoS one, vol. 11, no. 10, pp. 1-20, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0163407.

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Title A citizen science approach: a detailed ecological assessment of subtropical reefs at Point Lookout, Australia
Author(s) Roelfsema, Chris
Thurstan, RuthORCID iD for Thurstan, Ruth orcid.org/0000-0002-8045-1631
Beger, Maria
Dudgeon, Christine
Loder, Jennifer
Kovacs, Eva
Gallo, Michele
Flower, Jason
Gomez Cabrera, K-Le
Ortiz, Juan
Lea, Alexandra
Kleine, Diana
Journal name PLoS one
Volume number 11
Issue number 10
Article ID e0163407
Start page 1
End page 20
Total pages 20
Publisher PLoS
Place of publication San Fransico, Calif.
Publication date 2016
ISSN 1932-6203
Keyword(s) Climate change
Summary Subtropical reefs provide an important habitat for flora and fauna, and proper monitoring is required for conservation. Monitoring these exposed and submerged reefs is challenging and available resources are limited. Citizen science is increasing in momentum, as an applied research tool and in the variety of monitoring approaches adopted. This paper aims to demonstrate an ecological assessment and mapping approach that incorporates both top-down (volunteer marine scientists) and bottom-up (divers/community) engagement aspects of citizen science, applied at a subtropical reef at Point Lookout, Southeast Queensland, Australia. Marine scientists trained fifty citizen scientists in survey techniques that included mapping of habitat features, recording of substrate, fish and invertebrate composition, and quantifying impacts (e.g., occurrence of substrate damage, presence of litter). In 2014 these volunteers conducted four seasonal surveys along semi-permanent transects, at five sites, across three reefs. The project presented is a model on how citizen science can be conducted in a marine environment through collaboration of volunteer researchers, non-researchers and local marine authorities. Significant differences in coral and algal cover were observed among the three sites, while fluctuations in algal cover were also observed seasonally. Differences in fish assemblages were apparent among sites and seasons, with subtropical fish groups observed more commonly in colder seasons. The least physical damage occurred in the most exposed sites (Flat Rock) within the highly protected marine park zones. The broad range of data collected through this top-down/bottom-up approach to citizen science exemplifies the projects' value and application for identifying ecosystem trends or patterns. The results of the project support natural resource and marine park management, providing a valuable contribution to existing scientific knowledge and the conservation of local reefs.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0163407
Field of Research 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology)
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Authors
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30088371

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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