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Reefkeepers' FAQ's

-Where is the subtidal zone?
-What can Reefkeepers' projects monitor?
-What are keystone species?
-What are indicator species?
-What is colonization?
-What are some human impacts to the subtidal zone?
-Where does the Reefkeepers' project data go?
-Who analyzes the Reefkeepers' data?
-Are there other stewardship methods?
Sea Urchins
Where is the subtidal zone? Top
> The subtidal zone is the coastal marine area below the intertidal zone. That is, the subtidal zone is the zone in the ocean below the lowest water line, below the lowest tide of the year. In the Reefkeepers' Guide methods, the deepest allowable water depth for a monitoring project is 20 metres, or approximately 60 feet. However, the subtidal zone extends below that.

What can Reefkeepers' projects monitor? Top
> Several things can be monitored by setting up a Reefkeepers' project with a list of species on which survey observations can be made.

Reefkeepers can monitor
-the presence (or absence) of a single species or group of species including keystone species, indicator species, introduced species, fished species, or others.
-the colonization of life onto a new artificial reef.
-for effects of human impacts on the community of life on a reef.
-the general trends in the community of life on a reef.

Quite a few other questions can be addressed by using monitoring protocols of the Reefkeepers' Guide. If you have another idea for a project, contact us.

What are keystone species? Top
> Keystone species are species present in a biological community that are considered important to the community's ecological health.

What are indicator species? Top
> Indicator species are organisms that are known to show certain characteristics in the presence or absence of an environmental phenomenon. Some environmental phenomena indicated by indicator species include chemical pollution, climate conditions (in the ocean, things such as temperature, salt level, oxygen content of the water, and nutrient levels). Characteristics of indicator species that may show these phenomena include presence/absence, relative abundance, physical abnormalities, and others.

What is colonization? Top
> Colonization is the arrival of life onto a new or modified habitat. There are several types of colonization. One type is primary colonization, which is the arrival of life onto an entirely new habitat. This is the type of colonization that occurs when a brand new artificial reef is constructed, or if a geological event results in the creation of new substrate (e.g. through volcanic activity). Another type of colonization is secondary colonization, which occurs when a previously existing habitat is modified in a way that opens it up for new life to colonize it. This type of colonization may occur on the reef if a reef's surface is scraped, or by removal of plants and animals, through some type of human activity or through heavy storm activity. To some extent, secondary colonization occurs every spring on reefs in B.C. through larvae 'raining' down from the plankton layer where most plants and animals spend the first part of their life. This type of secondary colonization is typically on a smaller scale as space is freed up on a reef when an individual organism or a small patch of organisms dies off, and competition for the opening occurs.

What are some human impacts to the subtidal zone? Top
> Surface runoff from urban areas and farms and human and industrial sewage can lead to eutrophication (excessive nutrients) in the marine environment. Also, pollution in the form of heavy metals and chemical pollution can have toxic effects on marine life. Diving traffic on reefs has been claimed to result in adverse effects to plants and animals. Breakwaters can alter current patterns and sediment deposition.

Where does the Reefkeepers' project data go? Top
> The data are stored in an MS Access database. You will be able to get a copy of the database and enter your own data into it. Once entered, you will be able to create data summary reports directly from the database. Your monitoring group will always be able to keep the data you've collected, but it is also to be shared with Fisheries and Oceans Canada for comparison with other projects.

Who analyses the Reefkeepers' data? Top
> The data you collect along with data from other survey groups will be analyzed by scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. If you would like to assist with this analysis, you can contact us.

Are there other stewardship methods? Top
> Yes. There are other subtidal surveying methodologies available, many with a greater focus on public education and environment awareness. There are also intertidal monitoring projects, wetland stewardship, and stream stewardship projects. These all build on the interest and demand from communities to become involved in stewardship of marine and coastal ecosystems.

We provide a list of some of these initiatives in the 'Links' section of this web site for your interest so that you can chose the stewardship method that best suits your needs and monitoring objectives.