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.
Christine A. Ward-Paige, Ransom A. Myers,
Christy Pattengill-Semmens. In Prep. Yellow Stingray
in the Florida Keys.
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
Neely, K.L. In Prep. Using a meta-analysis of monitoringdata to determine the effects of bleaching on reef inhabitants.
Though declines in coral health have been documented worldwide, the effects of this decline on reef inhabitants are poorly studied. Studies monitoring fish abundances through coral declines are often inconclusive or contradictory in their results. This study uses fish assemblage data from REEF's database, as well as bleaching data compiled by ReefBase and reef health data collected by Reef Check, to correlate reef inhabitant abundance with bleaching events. Data are analyzed with respect to species, reef location, bleaching severity, and recovery time. Preliminary results show that the majority of species do not change in abundance following a bleaching event. Of those that do change, both increases and decreases are seen, and the direction of change, even within a single species, is often dependent on the time since the event. This suggests that a local decline in coral health may not have an immediate negative impact on the community and that a window of opportunity to preserve community structure following coral mortality may exist. This work was presented at the Summer 2006 ASLO meeting.
Taylor, M.S. and L. Akins. In Press. Two new species of
Elactinus (Telostei:Gobiidae) from the Mexican Coast of the Gulf of
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 from Notre Dame University. The new finds include
a neon-type goby that hovers in shoals above coral heads (Jahorcho Goby, Elactinus
jarocho) and a tiger-striped goby that rests on rocks and coral (Cinta
Goby, Elactinus redimiculus). Both species are currently only
known from reefs in southwestern Gulf of Mexico.
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 (Epinephelus striatus) spawning aggregation in Little
Cayman, Cayman Islands, BWI. 57th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries
Institute Meeting Proceedings (PDF)
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,
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. A PDF of this paper is posted here.
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
Auster, P.J., B.X. Semmens and K. Barber. 2005. Pattern in the co-occurrence of fishes inhabiting
the coral reefs of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles.
Environmental Biology of Fishes. 74 (2): 187-194.
This study used REEF data from Bonaire, an
area where several thousand REEF surveys have been conducted, to evaluate
patterns in species occurrence. Their results suggest that species interactions,
and/or species-habitat relationships may be important behavioral
attributes mediating the local structure of fish assemblages on these
coral reefs. This work was also
presented at the International Coral Reef Symposium in 2004.
The paper is posted as a PDF here.
Kingsley, M.C.S., ed. 2004. The Goliath Grouper in
southern Florida: assessment review and advisory report. Report
prepared for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the Gulf of
Mexico Fishery Management Council, and the National Marine Fisheries
Service. Southeast Data and Assessment Review. vii + 17 pp.
REEF data was one of three datasets used in the
most recent stock assessment of the Goliath grouper, a species that is
currently protected from harvest due to very low numbers in the
1980s. Because this species is not fished, fisheries managers must
use fisheries-independent datasets and the REEF database represents a
valuable source of this information. The full report is posted here.
Semmens, B.X., E.R. Buhle, A.K. Salomon, and C.V.
Pattengill-Semmens. 2004. Tankers or fish tanks: what brought
non-native marine fishes to Florida waters. Marine Ecology Progress
Sightings data submitted to REEF's Exotic Species Sighting Program through
2002 are summarized in this paper. The data show a hot-spot of non-native marine fishes along south
Florida (Broward and Palm Beach Counties). The authors evaluated potential vectors of
introduction and pinpointed the aquarium trade as the likely source.
Click here to download a PDF of this
Whaylen, L., Pattengill-Semmens, C.V.,
Semmens, B.X., Bush, P.G. and M.R. Boardman. 2004. Observations of a Nassau
Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) Spawning Aggregation Site In Little
Cayman, Including Multi-Species Spawning Information. Environmental Biology
of Fishes. 70: 305-313.
This paper summarizes the finding from the 2002 REEF Grouper Moon
Project, which documented the characteristics of a newly discovered Nassau
grouper spawning aggregation. At
its peak, over 5,000 Nassau
grouper were present at the site. Significant
contributions include the visual and video documentation of four nights of
spawning of Nassau grouper, the description of crepuscular and lunar
movements and color phase shifts in the grouper, and the documentation of
courtship/spawning behavior in ten additional species. Click here to
read the abstract or here to download a PDF of
This paper was also presented at the
2002 Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Meeting.
Pattengill-Semmens, C.V. and B.X.
Semmens. 2003. Conservation and management applications of the REEF
volunteer fish monitoring program. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Journal. 81: 43-50
This paper reviews the role of partnerships
in the success of REEF's program. Several examples of how REEF has
used partnerships are presented. These include monitoring program
parternships, data sharing and the use of data by others, the conservation
contributions of the REEF program, and the educational component of
partnerships. This paper is available as a PDF file, click here to view.
Pattengill-Semmens, C.V. & B.X. Semmens. 2003. The status of reef fishes in the Cayman Islands (B.W.I.). pp. 226 -- 247. In: J.C. Lang (ed.) Status of Coral Reefs in the Western Atlantic: Results of Initial Surveys, Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program. Atoll Research Bulletin, Vol. 496.
This paper is the result of a 1999 AGRRA expedition to the Cayman
Islands coordinated by the Marine Education and Environmental Research Institute
The paper uses the REEF database (over 1,200 surveys from the Cayman Islands) and the
AGRRA fish data to provide an updated species list for the Islands, a comparison between
islands (Grand Cayman and Little Cayman) and sites (33 sites), and an analysis of the
relationships between herbivorous fishes and algal cover. Thanks to the REEF database, 44
species were added to the list of fishes known to occur on the Islands. A site's location
(windward or leeward) appeared to be an important factor in community composition.
Additionally, many species had significantly higher abundances on Little Cayman, including
groupers which is probably an indication of the difference in anthropogenic impacts
between the two islands. This paper is available as a PDF file, click
here to view.
REEF. 2003. Volunteer Fish Monitoring in the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. 2002 Final Report.
This report summarizes the 2002 data
from REEF's annual assessment of the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary. A total of 37 sites from Key Largo through the Dry
Tortugas are monitored each year with REEF's Advanced Assessment Team, to
evaluate status, trends and the effect of no-take reserves. A PDF of
this report is posted here.
REEF 2002. Volunteer Fish Monitoring in the
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary: 1994-2001.
This report summarizes the first 8 years
of data from 27 sites in the Sanctuary, approximately half of which were
designated as no-take reserves in 1996. A PDF of the report is
Schmitt, E. F., T. D. Sluka, and K. M. Sullivan-Sealy.
2002. Evaluating the
use of roving diver and transect surveys to assess the coral reef assemblages off
southeastern Hispaniola. Coral Reefs. 21: 216-223.
The utility and biases of the Roving Diver Technique (RDT)
and transect visual surveys are
evaluated for use in rapid assessments off southeastern Hispaniola. Both methods are
similar in recording the most abundant species, while a greater number of rare species
(especially fishery-targeted species) are recorded with the RDT. The methods are found to
be complementary, and are suggested to be used together when conducting rapid assessments
of fish assemblages, especially to detect over-fishing. Click
to read full abstract or here to download
a PDF of this article.
Pattengill-Semmens, C.V. 2001. Learning to see
underwater. Underwater Naturalist. 25(4): 37-40.
This paper describes the Fish Survey Project, and
provides an overview of its applications in science and management and its value in enhancing the experience of
divers and snorkelers. Click here to
view the article as a .PDF document.
C.F.G., C. Pattengill-Semmens, S. Gittings, and M.E. Monaco. 2001.
Distribution and sighting frequency of reef fishes in the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary. Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series
MSD-01-1. US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD. 51 pp.
This study analyzed species richness,
distribution, and sighting frequency of selected reef fishes to describe
species assemblage composition, abundance, and spatial distribution
patterns within and among regions in the Florida Keys NMS. This
report is the result of work being done on the biogeography of reef fishes
by NOAA's Biogeography Office. Click here to
view a PDF version.
B.X. Semmens, J.L. Ruesink, and C.V. Pattengill-Semmens.
2000. Multi-site multi-species trends: a new tool for coral reef managers.
Proc. 9th International Coral Reef Symposium, October 2000. 1071-1078.
This is the first large scale trend analysis done
using REEF data. The paper looked at 21 sites throughout the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Analysis methods were modified from
those applied to the Breeding Bird Survey in order to detect sites with
multi-species declines. A sub-set of sites were identified and
potential management options were discussed. Click here
to read the abstract.
Jeffrey, C.F.G, C.
Pattengill-Semmens, K. Buja, J.D. Christensen, M. Coyne, M. E. Monaco, and
S. Gittings. in press. Benthic habitat associations of reef
fishes in the Florida Keys: Coupling of benthic habitats and fish
distributions via GIS technology. Proc. International Coral Reef Symposium,
analyzed spatial trends and correlations between habitat diversity and fish
community, using REEF data from the Florida Keys that were overlaid onto
benthic habitat maps using GIS. Click here
to read the abstract.
Pattengill-Semmens, C.V., S.R. Gittings, and T. Shyka. 2000. Flower Garden Banks
National Marine Sanctuary- A Rapid Assessment of Coral, Fish and Algae using the AGRRA
Protocol. NOAA Conservation Series Technical Report.
The results of an AGRRA expedition to the Flower Garden Banks are
summarized in this technical report. A total of 117 fish species were recorded during the
expedition, and REEF surveys documented a new record for the banks, a sharptail eel.
This document is available for download as a PDF file here.
Pattengill, C.V. 1999. Occurrence of a unique color morph in the
smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter) at the Flower Garden Banks and Stetson
Bank, northwest Gulf of Mexico. Bull. Mar. Sci. 65(2): 587-591.
As a result of REEF surveys, a new color phase of the smooth
trunkfish was documented at the Flower Garden Banks. The occurrence of this golden morph
is reported in this paper. For more information and to view a picture, visit http://www.flowergarden.nos.noaa.gov/trunk.html.
Pattengill-Semmens, C. V. and B. X. Semmens. 1999. Assessment and
monitoring applications of a community-based monitoring program: The Reef Environmental
Education Foundation. International Conference on Scientific Aspects of Coral Reef
Assessment, Monitoring, and Restoration. April 14-16, 1999. National Coral Reef Institute.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
A poster presentation on the REEF/TNC Fish Survey Project with examples
of three applications of data generated by the Project. These include evaluating the
effect of marine protected areas, mapping species distribution, and applications in
general assessment. A .PDF file of this poster is available for download.
Schmitt, E. F., K. M. Sullivan-Sealy, and D.W. Feeley. 1999. Applications of the
REEF Fish Survey Project for Monitoring Fishes in the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary. International Conference on Scientific Aspects of Coral Reef Assessment,
Monitoring, and Restoration. April 14-16, 1999. National Coral Reef Institute. Ft.
Data collected by expert observers were used to evaluate the effect of
Sanctuary Preservation Areas in the Florida Keys NMS on fishery-targeted species.
Frequency of occurrence of species such as snappers, groupers, and hogfish were greater in
sites that had protection from harvesting.
Pattengill, C. V. 1998. The structure and persistence of reef fish assemblages of
the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Doctoral Dissertation, Texas A&M
University, College Station, TX. 176pp.
Chapters 2, 4, and 5 of this dissertation present data collected using
the RDT. Chapter 2 presents the complete fish assemblage reported by RDT and Stationary
Diver Technique (SDT; referred to in Bohnsack, 1996, as the SST) surveys over three years
of semi-annual surveys of the Flower Gardens and Stetson Bank, in the northwest Gulf of
Mexico. Chapter 4 examines the quality of fish census data generated by REEF nonexperts,
and was published in the Journal of Gulf of Mexico Science (Pattengill-Semmens and
Semmens, 1998). Chapter 5 provides discussion on the applications and reasons for choosing
the RDT and the SDT for this project. A comparison between the abundance estimates of the
two methods and the biases inherent in each is also given.
Pattengill- Semmens, C.V. 2002. The reef fish assemblage of Bonaire Marine
Park: an analysis of REEF Fish Survey Project data. Proceedings 53rd Gulf
and Caribbean Fisheries Institute 53: 591-605.
A total of 362 species have been reported from 77 sites around
Bonaire and the neighboring Klein Bonaire. This makes the Bonaire Marine Park one of the
most species rich areas in REEF's database. The paper also showed that the composition of
species (presence and abundance) on Klein Bonaire and Bonaire are distinct. In addition to
providing data for site characterization, the thousands of surveys in REEF's database will
provide a baseline against which future change can be assessed. This paper provides the
most comprehensive species list published to date for the Park. A PDF file of this
paper is available for download.
Pattengill-Semmens, C. V. and B. X. Semmens. 1998. An analysis of fish survey data
generated by nonexperts in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Journal of
the Gulf of Mexico Science. 2: 196-207.
The quality of fish census data generated by REEF volunteers of various
experience levels is examined and compared with data generated by experts. The similarity
in species reported, the similarity in abundance category recorded, and the statistical
power to detect change are used in the comparison. Species composition and structure is
comparable between the skill levels. When sighted, most species are reported with similar
abundance categories. The ability to detect change in many species is better for the
nonexpert data, a result of higher survey effort for the nonexperts. Species that are
cryptic or rare have low power (change had to be large before it could be detected)
regardless of the skill level, but are generally better using expert data.
A PDF file of this
paper is available for download.
Schmitt, E. F., D. F. Wells, and K. M. Sullivan-Sealey. 1998. Surveying coral reef
fishes: a manual for data collection, processing, and interpretation of fish survey
information for the tropical northwest Atlantic. Coral Gables, FL: The Nature Conservancy,
Marine Conservation Center. 84pp.
This manual describes all aspects of REEF data collection and
processing. It also provides examples of interpretation of the Fish Survey Project data,
and how REEF data are used for The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Profiles.
Bohnsack, J. A. (ed.). 1996. Two visually based methods for monitoring coral reef
fishes. In A Coral Reef Symposium on Practical, Reliable, Low Cost Monitoring Methods for
Assessing the Biota and Habitat Conditions of Coral Reefs, Jan. 26-27, 1995. M.P. Crosby,
G.R. Gibson, and K.W. Potts (eds.). Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, NOAA,
Silver Spring, MD.
This short paper, prepared after the second year of the Fish Survey
Project, overviews the RDT and the more quantitative Stationary Sampling Technique. The
advantages to the REEF RDT are discussed, including the information provided on
fisheries-independent species and its simplicity. The author concludes that both methods
can be used to answer a wide variety of monitoring and scientific questions, although each
has advantages and disadvantages. Summary posted online at http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/coral/symposium/bohnsack.html.
Schmitt, E., compiler. 1996. Status of Reef Fishes in the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary: Regional Project Summary. The Nature Conservancy, Florida
and Caribbean Marine Conservation Science Center, University of Miami. Miami, FL. 37pp.
This report is a summary of the first 3 years of the Fish Survey
Project in the Florida Keys, with comparisons among FKNMS sites and with other distant
regions. It demonstrates some ways in which data from the Project can be used.
Schmitt, E. F., and K. M. Sullivan. 1996. Analysis of a volunteer method for
collecting fish presence and abundance data in the Florida Keys. Bulletin of Marine
Science. 59(2): 404-416.
Roving diver data gathered by expert volunteers in the Florida Keys are
presented and discussed. These data are found to be comparable to other Florida Keys
published studies. Differences in the fish assemblages between the three regions of the
Keys, the upper, lower, and the Dry Tortugas, are reported and evaluated.
This paper was the first published account of the Roving Diver Technique (RDT).
Schmitt, E. F., B. X. Semmens, and K. M. Sullivan. 1993. Research applications of
volunteer generated coral reef fish surveys. The Nature Conservancy, Florida and Caribbean
Marine Conservation Science Center, University of Miami. Miami, Fl. 15pp.
This report is the first publication of the RDT, and was initially
given at the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute meeting in Spring 1994.