Marine Biology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 239–249 | Cite as

Surface area in ecological analysis: Quantification of benthic coral-reef algae

  • A. L. Dahl


The surface area of organisms and substrata is shown to be a significant ecological parameter because of its functional importance in the system. Quantification of surface area can be of particular value in morphologically complex environments such as coral reefs. The amount of surface in a reef habitat can be estimated by direct measurements and theoretical approximations, using a surface index (SI) for the amount of surface increase over that of a similarly bounded plane. SI values for a section of the British Honduran barrier reef ranged up to 15 in the reef-crest area at scales significant to macro-organisms. By combining substrate-area measurements with estimates of percent coverage of the major benthic algal components, a reef transect with a horizontal area of 300 m2 was shown to have over 300 m2 covered by benthic macroalgae. The potential for the further development of surface estimation techniques is discussed.


Coral Reef Macroalgae Percent Coverage Theoretical Approximation Complex Environment 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. L. Dahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanySmithsonian InstitutionWashington, D.C.USA

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