Coral Reefs

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 693–702 | Cite as

Performance of remote acoustic receivers within a coral reef habitat: implications for array design

  • J. Q. WelshEmail author
  • R. J. Fox
  • D. M. Webber
  • D. R. Bellwood


Remote monitoring technologies are increasingly being implemented in the marine environment to better understand the movement patterns of taxa. Coral reefs are no exception. However, there is a paucity of information relating to the performance of acoustic receivers on coral reefs. Our results suggest that the detection performance of acoustic receivers may be significantly impacted by the unique nature of the reef environment. This study assessed the performance of passive acoustic receivers on a typical inner-shelf fringing reef, Orpheus Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The detection range and diel performance variability of acoustic receivers was assessed using two parallel lines of 5 VR2W receivers spanning 125 m, deployed on the reef base and reef crest. Two 9-mm acoustic transmitters were moored at opposite ends of each receiver line. The working detection range for receivers was found to be approximately 90 m for the transmitter moored on the reef base and just 60 m for the transmitter moored on the reef crest. However, the detection range on the reef crest increased to 90 m when just the reef crest receivers were considered, highlighting importance of optimal receiver deployment. No diel patterns in receiver performance or detection capacities were detected, suggesting that no corrections are required when interpreting nocturnal versus diurnal activity patterns. We suggest that studies aiming for complete coverage of a site within a reef environment will require receivers in close (<100 m) proximity, and that the placement depth of receivers must be a major consideration, with shallow receivers exhibiting a greater detection range than those on the reef slope. Our results highlight the challenges imposed by coral reefs for acoustic telemetry and the importance of receiver placement for studies conducted within these habitats.


Acoustic telemetry Passive monitoring Detection range Detection efficiency Coral reef 



We thank A Barnett, J Bathgate, B Ebner, M Heupel, M Kramer, D Mills, S Osman, P Ridd, C Simpfendorfer, J. Tanner, J Theim and two anonymous reviewers for helpful advice or suggestions, the staff of Orpheus Island Research Station (a JCU Facility) for provision of essential field support and R Bonaldo, M Kramer and C Lefèvre for field assistance. Preliminary range testing at the study site was carried out using receivers provided by IMOS’ Australian Acoustic Tagging and Monitoring System (AATAMS) Facility (loan pool award to RJF). Funding for the project was provided by the Australian Research Council (DRB). Research was conducted under GBRMPA permit G08/28894.1.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 53 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Q. Welsh
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. J. Fox
    • 1
  • D. M. Webber
    • 2
  • D. R. Bellwood
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Vemco, Amirix Systems Inc.HalifaxCanada

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