Assessing national biodiversity trends for rocky and coral reefs through the integration of citizen science and scientific monitoring programs

Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Graham J. Edgar, Neville S. Barrett, Amanda E. Bates, Susan C. Baker, Nicholas J. Bax, Mikel A. Becerro, Just Berkhout, Julia L. Blanchard, Daniel J. Brock, Graeme F. Clark, Antonia T. Cooper, Tom R. Davis, Paul B. Day, Emmett Duffy, Thomas H. Holmes, Steffan A. Howe, Alan Jordan, Stuart Kininmonth, Nathan A. KnottJonathan S. Lefcheck, Scott D. Ling, Amanda Parr, Elisabeth Strain, Hugh P A Sweatman, Russell Thomson

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Reporting progress against targets for international biodiversity agreements is hindered by a shortage of suitable biodiversity data. We describe a cost-effective system involving Reef Life Survey citizen scientists in the systematic collection of quantitative data covering multiple phyla that can underpin numerous marine biodiversity indicators at high spatial and temporal resolution. We then summarize the findings of a continentaland decadal-scale State of the Environment assessment for rocky and coral reefs based on indicators of ecosystem state relating to fishing, ocean warming, and invasive species and describing the distribution of threatened species. Fishing impacts are widespread, whereas substantial warming-related change affected some regions between 2005 and 2015. Invasive species are concentrated near harbors in southeastern Australia, and the threatened-species index is highest for the Great Australian Bight and Tasman Sea. Our approach can be applied globally to improve reporting against biodiversity targets and enhance public and policymakers' understanding of marine biodiversity trends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-146
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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