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Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program Rapid Ecological Assessment Quadrat Surveys of Corals around the Marianas Islands from 2003 to 2007

The Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP), established by the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program (CREP) of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), is tasked with documenting and understanding the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems in the U.S. Pacific.

Pacific RAMP involves an interdisciplinary series of integrated ecosystem observations of coral reefs around ~ 50 islands, atolls, and shallow-water banks of the Mariana Archipelago, American Samoa, the Hawaiian Archipelago, and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Pacific RAMP surveys are designed to characterize the spatial and temporal variability of the distribution, abundance, and diversity of corals, algae, other macro-invertebrates, and fishes in the context of their benthic habitats and oceanographic environments.

As part of this Pacific-wide monitoring effort, CRED conducted its first Pacific RAMP research cruise to the Mariana Archipelago (MARAMP) in 2003, with subsequent cruises to follow on a biennial cycle through 2011, and on a triennial cycle thereafter when Pacific RAMP was implemented as part of NOAA's National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP).

The coral data described herein were collected via Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) surveys following the quadrat method, and conducted at specific reef sites around the islands and reefs of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) during MARAMP 2003, 2005, and 2007. During MARAMP 2003, 2005, and 2007, the majority of REA surveys were conducted along the fore reef slopes of islands at depths of 10-20 m; however, other habitat types were also surveyed. During REA surveys, biological assessment teams---a fish team, a coral team, and a combined algal and macro-invertebrate team---followed highly structured protocols that were repeated at each REA site. REA sites were selected in 2003 and, when possible, revisited during 2005 and 2007; a few additional sites were added in 2005 and 2007, and were chosen based on consultations with the resource management agencies of each jurisdiction.

Quadrat surveys were conducted at all islands surveyed during MARAMP 2003, all but one island during MARAMP 2005, and at 10 of 15 islands during MARAMP 2007. The quadrat method was only employed during surveys in the Mariana Archipelago, and the method was retired from Pacific RAMP following MARAMP 2007.

The quadrat survey data include species/genus identification of individual coral colonies and empirical size measurements (colony length and width) that can provide metrics such as generic richness and composition, coral-colony density, and size distribution (not included in the dataset), and can be accessed online via the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) Ocean Archive, accession #0129066.

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agINFRA The RING is part of the agINFRA project EC 7th framework program INFRA-2011-1.2.2 - Grant agr. no: 283770