For Lab 10 we are focusing on coral reef community structure using quadrats and line transects. This past summer I did a field school in Ke’ei, Hawaii called QUEST where I studied much the same thing. While at QUEST we utilized quadrats and line transects to determine percent coral coverage as well as species abundance. Gathering this data gave us a better understanding of the composition of the reef as well as its health. For the most part we would lay down a 50m line transect at a predetermined point and then place the quadrat at random locations (that we generated before the dive) along the transect. After we placed the quadrat gently on the reef we did one of many different survey techniques depending on what we were told. Sometimes we recorded what species of coral were present within the quadrat while other times we estimated percent cover within the quadrat.
Picture by Jeff Kuwabara
In addition to recording the coverage and type of corals on the reef, we also gathered data on whether there was any bleaching, coral disease, or algal overgrowth on the corals. The reef at Ke’ei is remarkably pristine and healthy; it was a great opportunity to dive there!