|Title||Reliability and utility of citizen science reef monitoring data collected by Reef Check Australia, 2002-2015|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||Done T., Roelfsema C., Harvey A., Schuller L., Hill J., Schlappy M.L, Lea A., Bauer-Civiello A., Loder J.|
|Journal||Marine Pollution Bulletin|
|Type of Article||Article|
|Keywords||Benthos; citizen science; Coral monitoring; coral-reefs; cover; Great Barrier Reef,; great-barrier-reef; subtropical reefs|
Reef Check Australia (RCA) has collected data on benthic composition and cover at >70 sites along >1000 km of Australia's Queensland coast from 2002 to 2015. This paper quantifies the accuracy, precision and power of RCA benthic composition data, to guide its application and interpretation. A simulation study established that the inherent accuracy of the Reef Check point sampling protocol is high (<+/- 17% error absolute), in the range of estimates of benthic cover from 1% to 50%. A field study at three reef sites indicated that, despite minor observer and deployment-related biases, the protocol does reliably document moderate ecological changes in coral communities. The error analyses were then used to guide the interpretation of inter-annual variability and long term trends at three study sites in RCA's major 2002-2015 data series for the Queensland coast. (C) 2017 Published by Elsevier Ltd.