Coral Reefs

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 35–46

Quantitative video sampling of coral reef benthos: large-scale application


  • J. H. Carleton
    • Australian Institute of Marine Science
  • T. J. Done
    • Australian Institute of Marine Science

DOI: 10.1007/BF00304070

Cite this article as:
Carleton, J.H. & Done, T.J. Coral Reefs (1995) 14: 35. doi:10.1007/BF00304070


The feasibility of reliably estimating percent cover of coral reef benthos by video techniques is examined. Video belt transects were recorded within study areas on Davies and John Brewer Reefs in the central Great Barrier Reef during September 1988. Two years later in September 1990, the study area at Davies Reef was resampled concurrently by video and line intercept transects. Percent cover data of major coral growth forms and non-biotic physionomic attributes were extracted from video footage by scoring the identity of items located at even or random spaced points along the transect. A cost-benefit analysis which compared increases in precision with increases in sampling effort suggested that the optimum regime for analyzing 200 m long video transects was five subsamples of 110 random points or one sample of 550. This regime resolved both spatial variability at large and smaller spatial scales (between study areas and among transects) and temporal change (within a single study area over a two year period) for total live coral and individual growth forms. The strengths of the technique lie in its cost-savings in filed expenses, and in the production of a permanent visual record. The limitations of the technique lie in reduced taxonomic resolution when compared with “hands on” field techniques. The results suggest that for broad taxonomic categories of coral reef benthos reliable estimates of relative abundance can be obtained by video techniques.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995