Coastal Eco-Group scientists utilize various techniques to characterize and monitor coral reef/hardbottom habitats including in situ, photographic and digital video methods.


In situ methods allow for a complete census of physical and biotic functional groups. Our scientists are proficient in belt transects, line intercept and point quadrat sampling of nearshore hardbottom and reef habitats, as well as numerous rapid assessment protocols including Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) and the Benthic Ecological Assessment for Marginal Reefs (BEAMR).


For in situ quadrat assessments, biotic parameters include visual estimates of planar percent cover of sessile benthos pooled to major functional groups: macroalgae, turf algae, encrusting red algae, sponge, hydroid, octocoral, stony coral, tunicate, bare hard substrate, seagrass, anemone, zoanthid, Millepora sp., sessile worm, wormrock, bivalve, bryozoan, and barnacles.

Macroalgae percent cover data are broken down by genus/species-level percent cover (all with at least 1% cover). Octocoral and stony coral colonies are identified and the maximum height or width is measured to the nearest cm. Octocoral and stony coral colonies are identified to genus or species whenever possible.

Fish assessment methodologies employed by CEG fish specialists include a variety of visual census techniques such as point-count (Bohnsack and Bannerot, 1986), transect-count, and roving diver surveys, including a modified visual census technique for application in low visibility conditions.

Video surveys are conducted using a four millimeter Sony TRV-900 digital video camera (or comparable equipment) secured in an Amphibico Navigator underwater housing unit. A convergent laser guidance system indicates a precise height from the benthos. Video transects are quantitatively analyzed using PointCount’99 or Coral Point


Macroalgae percent cover data are broken down by genus/species-level percent cover (all with at least 1% cover). Octocoral and stony coral colonies are identified and the maximum height or width is measured to the nearest cm. Octocoral and stony coral colonies are identified to genus or species whenever possible.


Fish assessment methodologies employed by CEG fish specialists include a variety of visual census techniques such as point-count (Bohnsack and Bannerot, 1986), transect-count, and roving diver surveys, including a modified visual census technique for application in low visibility conditions.


Coastal Eco-Group, Inc.
665 SE 10th Street
, Suite 104
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Phone 954.591.1219

Fax 954.653.2981

Reef Hardbottom/Habitat Characterization Mapping & Monitoring

Video surveys are conducted using a four millimeter Sony TRV-900 digital video camera (or comparable equipment) secured in an Amphibico Navigator underwater housing unit. A convergent laser guidance system indicates a precise height from the benthos. Video transects are quantitatively analyzed using PointCount’99 or Coral Point Count with Excel extensions (CPCe) based upon the random point count method for estimation of percent cover from digitally frame-grabbed underwater video images. Estimates of benthic percent cover are performed for each image according to the following functional groups/categories: scleractinian corals (to the genus level), octocorals, macroalgae (to the genus level if possible, if not, then according to the following breakdown: calcareous red, calcareous green, fleshy brown, fleshy red, fleshy green), microalgae/cyanobacteria, sponges, tunicates, hydroids, sabellariid worm, zoanthids, urchins, holothuroids, and substrate. Substrate is broken down into the following categories: unconsolidated substrate (rubble/shell hash, rhodoliths), sediment over hardbottom, sediment over benthos and sand.


CEG scientists interpret, map and delineate hardbottom habitats from aerial photography in conjunction with in situ diver-verification surveys. Nearshore hardbottom edge locations are ground-truthed and mapped by a team of qualified marine biologists swimming along the inshore hardbottom/sand interface. Towed-diver surveys may also be utilized depending upon underwater conditions. DGPS targets are recorded every 50-100 ft along the hardbottom edge or with any major change in exposure.