REEF's Volunteer Fish Survey Project dataset was one of 73 fish and invertebrate monitoring programs that were systematically cataloged and evaluated as part of a mulit-year study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) RESTORE Act Science Program. The effort was led by Arnaud Gruss from the University of Miami, and involved dozens of collaborators, including REEF's Director of Science, Christy Pattengill-Semmens. The authors conducted a gap analysis of the programs, provided recommendations for improving current monitoring programs and designing new programs, and guidance for more comprehensive use and sharing of monitoring data. The compiled data were also used to map the spatial distributions of 61 fish and invertebrate functional groups, species, and life stages. The results were published last month in the scientific journal Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. A second paper was published from this program earlier in 2018 in the journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries, which used the compiled monitoring data to run statistical habitat models to assist in Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM) efforts. The analysis mapped hotspots of juveniles and adults of three economically important species (Red Snapper, Gag, and Red Grouper) in the West Florida Shelf for informing future marine protected area (MPA) planning.

The full citations of the two papers are:

Gruss, A, et al. 2018. Monitoring Programs of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico: Inventory, development and use of a large monitoring database to map fish and invertebrate spatial distributions. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. 28 June 2018


Gruss, A, DD Chagaris, EA Babcock, and JH Tarnecki. 2018. Assisting Ecosystem‐Based Fisheries Management Efforts Using a Comprehensive Survey Database, a Large Environmental Database, and Generalized Additive Models. Marine and Coastal Fisheries. 10(1): 40-70

To access these papers, and the other 60+ scientific papers that have included REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project data and other REEF programs, visit