ARMS for Biodiversity Baselines in Polynesie Francaise

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05 Oct 2023

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Erin Robinson | Tetiaroa Society



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Fish and coral species comprise less than 1% of all coral reef biodiversity yet almost all assessments of reef status are made exclusively on those groups. Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) are standardized sampling arrays meant to mimic the complexity of the reef and capture the other 99% of diversity. Building off the success of the Moorea Biocode Project, ARMS provide a more comprehensive baseline across taxonomic and functional domains for documenting reef diversity and monitoring changing patterns through future ocean conditions. ARMS sample biodiversity over precisely the same surface area in the exact same manner. Like pre-fabricated housing, ARMS are deployed on the ocean bottom for one year and then collected to see what species have moved in. The integration of traditional taxonomic methods with DNA barcoding and next-generation metagenomic approaches vastly increases the number of species included in biodiversity measurements. The standardized approach allows comparison from site to site or over time. Over 1000 ARMS have been deployed at over 100 sites across the worlds oceans. ARMS were deployed for the first time at two sites on Tetiaroa in the spring of 2014 and will be recovered in June 2015. The collected communities will be processed to establish the first ever biodiversity profile for Tetiaroas reefs. The inventory generated from analyses of these ARMS will not only provide a biodiversity baseline for Tetiaroa, but also result in the first ever comparison of reef communities between high islands (Moorea) and an atoll (Tetiaroa) using this more expansive approach.


Chris Meyer



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