Scientific Papers and Reports

This is an annotated list of the published papers and reports that have included REEF data. The list is in chronological order. Papers that are available for viewing in .pdf format are noted.

Also see the Projects page for links to additional reports.

Stallings, C. 2009. Fishery-Independent Data Reveal Negative Effect of Human Population Density on Caribbean Predatory Fish Communities.

PLoS One. 4(5): e5333

Understanding the current status of predatory fish communities, and the effects fishing has on them, is vitally important information for management. However, data are often insufficient at region-wide scales to assess the effects of extraction in coral reef ecosystems of developing nations. The author overcomes this difficulty by using REEF's large database from the Volunteer Survey Project, which is a publicly accessible, fisheries-independent database. The aim of the study was to provide a broad scale, comprehensive analysis of human impacts on predatory reef fish communities across the greater Caribbean region. Specifically, this study analyzed presence and diversity of predatory reef fishes over a gradient of human population density. Across the region, as human population density increases, presence of large-bodied fishes declines, and fish communities become dominated by a few smaller-bodied species. The analysis found a complete disappearance of several large-bodied fishes, which indicates ecological and local extinctions have occurred in some densely populated areas. These findings fill a fundamentally important gap in our knowledge of the ecosystem effects of artisanal fisheries in developing nations, and provide support for multiple approaches to data collection where they are commonly unavailable.

Biological Review Team NWFSC. 2009. Preliminary Scientific Conclusions of the Review of the Status of 5 Species of Rockfish.

This was a predecision document prepared by NOAA’s Fisheries Service to evaluate the population status of five species of rockfish in the Puget Sound. REEF data were one of several datasets that were used by the fisheries scientists to make the evaluation. Based on the analyses, NOAA Fisheries proposed to list three populations of rockfish in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Georgia Basin populations of two of the rockfish species – canary and yelloweye – are proposed for “threatened” status. A third rockfish species – bocaccio – is proposed as “endangered.” Populations of all three rockfish species in the Georgia Basin, which encompasses Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia, have been harvested at high levels, depleting their numbers. Rockfish, which are bottom dwellers, typically live long lives, and mature and reproduce slowly, making them especially vulnerable to overfishing. A final decision on the three will be made in the Spring 2010.

Koenig CC and FC Coleman. 2009. Population density, demographics, and predation effects of adult goliath grouper.

MARFIN Project (NA05NMF4540045) NOAA/NMFS Final Report. 79 pp

This report summarizes several years of work on Goliath Grouper to provide an understanding of adult ecology and behavior so that the population could be managed sustainably. REEF data were used to provide information on distribution patterns throughout the southeatern US and regional densities in Florida. The authors found high concordance between their quantitative reef survey data and the categorical abundance data collected by REEF volunteers, thus reducing uncertainty about use of REEF's population data for future stock assessments.

Gunderson, DR, AM Parm, R Hilborn, JM Cope, DL Fluharty, ML Miller, RD Vetterd, SS Heppell & HG Greene . 2008. The Challenge of Managing Nearshore Rocky Reef Resources.

Fisheries. Volume 33, Issue 4

This paper is the result of a workshop held at University of Washington in 2008 on nearshore rocky reefs. REEF Director of Science, Dr. Christy Pattengill-Semmens, presented data collected by REEF surveyors in the Pacific Northwest, and some details from that talk are in this paper. Nearshore temperate reefs are highly diverse and productive habitats that provide structure and shelter for a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. Recreational and commercial fisheries depend on nearshore reefs, which also provide opportunities for non-extractive recreational activities such as diving. Many inhabitants of nearshore temperate reefs on the west coast of North America have very limited home ranges as adults, and recent genetic evidence indicates that the dispersion of the larval stages is often restricted to tens of kilometers. Management of temperate reef resources must be organized on very small spatial scales in order to be effective, offering unique technical challenges in terms of assessment and monitoring. New enabling legislation could assist in specifying mandates and adjusting institutional design to allow stakeholders and concerned citizens to formulate management policies at local levels, and to aid in implementing and enforcing these policies.

Taylor, M.S. and L. Akins. 2007. Two new species of Elactinus (Telostei:Gobiidae) from the Mexican Coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Zootaxa. 1425: 45-51

This paper describes two new species of goby that were discovered by REEF surveyors during a special training project in the Veracruz Marine Park in Mexico in 2003. Individuals of the two mystery gobies were photographed by REEF's Lad Akins. In cooperation with the marine park, specimens were collected and subsequently described as new species by Dr. Mike Taylor. The new finds include a neon-type goby that hovers in shoals above coral heads (Jarocho Goby, Elacatinus jarocho) and a tiger-striped goby that rests on rocks and coral (Cinta Goby, Elacatinus redimiculus). Both species are currently only known from reefs in southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Muller, Robert G.. 2007. Fishery independent indices of abundance for mutton snapper, Lutjanus analis, from REEF fish surveys.

Southeast Data and Assessment Review (SEDAR) 15A. June 5, 2007 -- 12 pp.

REEF data were used to provide a fisheries independant index for use in the mutton snapper stock assessment conducted by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Councils as part of the SEDAR process. Three indices were calculated with different subsets of the REEF dive surveys: an index based on all dives on Florida’s Atlantic coast; an index based on sites that were visited by divers on at least seven of the 13 years, i.e. more than half, and at which mutton snapper were observed more than once; an index that used a logistic regression of presence or absence of species on the dives to calculate the probability that a dive would observe mutton snapper.

Weaver, Douglas C. and Luiz A. Rocha. 2007. A new species of Halichoeres (Teleostei: Labridae) from the western Gulf of Mexico.

Copeia. 2007(4): 798-807

This publication describes a new (to science) species of coral reef wrasse found by REEF surveyors at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). This species was nicknamed the "Mardi Gras wrasse" by sanctuary staff due to the bright purple, yellow and green coloration of the terminal male phase. The fish was originally discovered at the East Flower Garden Bank by members of a REEF survey team in 1997, and has been periodically observed (primarily at Stetson Bank) since that time. Subsequent investigation by Doug Weaver and sanctuary staff confirmed that it was in fact a previously undescribed species of wrasse. The scientific name of the species is Halichoeres burekae, in honor of FGBNMS photographers Frank and Joyce Burek, who obtained the first photograph of the fish. The Mardi Gras wrasse has also since been reported from the Veracruz region of Mexico.

Christine A. Ward-Paige, Ransom A. Myers, Christy Pattengill-Semmens. 2006. Yellow Stingray in the Florida Keys.

American Elasmobranch Society Conference Proceedings.

This study analyzed temporal trends of the yellow stingray in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) as recorded by trained volunteer divers using the Roving Diver Technique. Data were obtained from the REEF Fish Survey Project. A generalized linear model on presence-absence data was used to estimate the change in yellow stingray by year. Habitat type, bottom time, depth, site, water temperature, and Julian date were included in the model to standardize the data. The decline in sighting frequency has occurred in all habitat types, depths, sites, and regions of the FKNMS. Within the FKNMS yellow stingray sightings declined from 32% SF (425 sightings in 1323 surveys) in 1994 to 8.5% SF (93 sightings in 1095 surveys) in 2005, averaging ~18% decline per year. The decline has gone virtually unnoticed. This study highlights the importance of protecting marine communities for the preservation of fishery resources and shows the importance of recording all marine species extractions. It also demonstrates the value and application of trained volunteer divers for monitoring temporal trends and species interactions of marine communities. This work was presented at the Summer 2006 American Elasmobranch Society meeting in New Orleans.

Whaylen, L., P.G. Bush, B.C. Johnson, K.E. Luke, C.M.R. McCoy, S. Heppell, B. X. Semmens, and M. Boardman. 2006. Aggregation dynamics and lessons learned from five years of monitoring at a Nassau grouper spawning aggregation in Little Cayman.

57th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Meeting Proceedings.

This paper summarized the first five years of monitoring of the Little Cayman West End aggregation, including a summary of spawning activity, total numbers of fish present at the aggregation each year, coloration, and behavior.

Semmens, B.X., K.E. Luke, P.G. Bush, C.M.R. McCoy, and B.C. Johnson. 2006. Isopod infestation of post-spawning Nassau grouper around Little Cayman Island.

Journal of Fish Biology 69: 933-937.

This paper documents attacks by the isopod Excorallana tricornis tricornis on Nassau grouper caught in Antillian fish traps during the post-spawning season of Spring 2005. These findings were documented during Grouper Moon research by REEF and Cayman Islands Department of the Environment staff. Fish were being trapped in order to acoustically tag individuals from sites around Little Cayman Island in order to better understand what percentage of reproductive-size individuals attend the aggregation each year. The paper discusses the apparent energetic costs associated with spawning. This work was also presented as a poster at the 56th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Meeting in 2005, and a summary of the poster is posted online (POSTER).

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