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.

Jeffrey, C.F.G, C. Pattengill-Semmens, K. Buja, J.D. Christensen, M. Coyne, M. E. Monaco, and S. Gitting. 2000. Benthic habitat associations of reef fishes in the Florida Keys.

Proc. International Coral Reef Symposium, October 2000.

This study 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. (FIXME)

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.

Pattengill, C.V.. 1999. Occurrence of a unique color morph in the smooth trunkfish at the Flower Garden Banks and Stetson Bank, northwest Gulf of Mexico.

Bulletin of Marine Science. 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

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.

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. Lauderdale, FL..

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.

Castle, P.H.J. and J.E. Randall. 1999. Revision of Indo-Pacific garden eels (Congridae: Heterocongrinae), with descriptions of five new species..

Indo-Pacific Fishes. (30):52 p.

In 1997, REEF surveyors discovered a colony of garden eels during survey dives in the Gulf of Mexico that didn't' look quite right to be the usual brown garden eel. After sending images and ultimately a specimen to Dr. John Randall, the mystery species was identified as a new species of conger eel, the yellow garden eel (Heteroconger luteolus). The description of the new species was published in 1999.

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. 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.

Schmitt, E. F., D. F. Wells, and K. M. Sullivan-Sealey. 1998. Surveying coral reef fishes.

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

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