Marine biodiversity survey in the Northern Red Sea: a large-scale monitoring carried out in collaboration with volunteer divers

Pensa, Francesco (2013) Marine biodiversity survey in the Northern Red Sea: a large-scale monitoring carried out in collaboration with volunteer divers, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biodiversità ed evoluzione, 25 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5832.
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Concerns over global change and its effect on coral reef survivorship have highlighted the need for long-term datasets and proxy records, to interpret environmental trends and inform policymakers. Citizen science programs have showed to be a valid method for collecting data, reducing financial and time costs for institutions. This study is based on the elaboration of data collected by recreational divers and its main purpose is to evaluate changes in the state of coral reef biodiversity in the Red Sea over a long term period and validate the volunteer-based monitoring method. Volunteers recreational divers completed a questionnaire after each dive, recording the presence of 72 animal taxa and negative reef conditions. Comparisons were made between records from volunteers and independent records from a marine biologist who performed the same dive at the same time. A total of 500 volunteers were tested in 78 validation trials. Relative values of accuracy, reliability and similarity seem to be comparable to those performed by volunteer divers on precise transects in other projects, or in community-based terrestrial monitoring. 9301 recreational divers participated in the monitoring program, completing 23,059 survey questionnaires in a 5-year period. The volunteer-sightings-based index showed significant differences between the geographical areas. The area of Hurghada is distinguished by a medium-low biodiversity index, heavily damaged by a not controlled anthropic exploitation. Coral reefs along the Ras Mohammed National Park at Sharm el Sheikh, conversely showed high biodiversity index. The detected pattern seems to be correlated with the conservation measures adopted. In our experience and that of other research institutes, citizen science can integrate conventional methods and significantly reduce costs and time. Involving recreational divers we were able to build a large data set, covering a wide geographic area. The main limitation remains the difficulty of obtaining an homogeneous spatial sampling distribution.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Pensa, Francesco
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
29 Aprile 2013

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