Assessing Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) as Biodiversity Monitors

Meeting Abstract

136.3  Monday, Jan. 7  Assessing Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) as Biodiversity Monitors KUWAHARA, A*; MEYER, C; COLLINS, A; Humboldt State University; Smithsonian Institution; NOAA/NMFS Smithsonian Institution

Assessing Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) as Biodiversity Monitors
Akela Kuwahara1,2, Allen Collins2 and Chris Meyer21Humbolt State University
2NMNH-IZ, Smithsonian Institution, USA

Due to the complexity of coral reef ecosystems and the multitude of cryptic species,
accurate estimates coral reef biodiversity are difficult. To better understand coral
reef biodiversity and how it varies, Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS)
were developed to collect comparable samples of reef cryptobiont communities.
These units create standardized, habitable structure for both sessile and motile
reef organisms, thus allowing statistically rigorous examination of a consistent,
diverse subset of cryptobiota across a variety of reef habitats, locales and time.
Over 300 ARMS have been deployed at over 40 sites worldwide, but no tests have
been performed to measure the variance in community composition within and/or
between sites for the sessile biota. In order to test the sensitivity of ARMS to detect
change, we measured percent cover of major sessile groups using high-resolution
photographs of the ARMS plates after one-year deployments on reefs in the Coral
Triangle and French Polynesia. These data were used to test the following: 1. How
much variation in major functional groups exists within regions on local scales
(i.e. 2m versus 100m)? 2. Can ARMS detect differences in community composition
across regional scales (Indonesia versus French Polynesia)? 3. Are communities
established on reconditioned ARMS different from those on new ARMS? These
tests are critical to determine the potential of ARMS data as a rigorous biodiversity
metric. Our results argue for the use of ARMS as standardized monitoring structures
and provide insight into the cryptic community on coral reefs. This morphological
data can also be compared with metagenomic data derived from the ARMS, allowing
us to assess the accuracy of these emerging molecular methods in measuring

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