A Better Understanding of Coral Reef Ecosystems

Pelagic predators such as these barracuda, Sphyraena qenie, are part of the coral reef ecosystem in the U.S. Line Islands (NOAA Photo by Kevin Lino).
A team of scientists have embarked from Hawai'i on a three-month survey of coral reef ecosystems at Johnston Atoll, the U.S. Phoenix Islands, the islands of American Samoa, and the U.S. Line Islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean. The overarching objective is to better understand the coral reef ecosystems of these areas, many of which are seldom explored. The research expedition is part of a regular monitoring program, conducted by the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED), headquartered in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The expedition is supported by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program and involves extensive cooperation among NOAA scientists and research partners, including the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego State University, and the Papahānaumaokuākea Marine National Monument.

The research expedition will be carried out from February 27 to May 24, 2012 aboard the NOAA ship Hi'ialakai. Under the leadership of Chief Scientists Dr. Jill Zamzow, Dr. Bernardo Vargas-Angél, and Jamison Gove, a diverse team of researchers will be conducting multidisciplinary coral reef ecosystem surveys, assessing the status of fishes, corals, algae, marine invertebrates, and the oceanographic conditions in which these organisms exist. The scientific data collected during the three-month research expedition will enable informed and effective implementation of ecosystem-based management and conservation strategies for coral reef ecosystems, helping to ensure their protection for generations to come.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Plectroglyphidodon imparipennis

What is that? It's this guy:
How do you say it? Your guess is as good as mine.

Plectroglyphidodon imparipennis is the scientific name for the bright-eyed damselfish. So why can’t we just call it that? Common names for fish vary widely. Scientific names are more specific, and are used world-wide. Here at CRED, the fish team has come up with four-letter codes to make data recording a little easier. We usually use the first two letters of the genus, and the first two letters of the species name. So Plectroglyphidodon imparipennis would simply be PLIM. This is much easier to write underwater when you see many fish at once. It’s easier for our brains to say, “hmm, that’s 4 PLIM at 5 cm, 1 EPPO at 45 cm, and 4 GNAU at 22 cm.” Instead of writing down:
4 Plectroglyphidodon imparipennis’ at 5 cm, 1 Epinephelus polyphekadion at 45 cm, and 4 Gnathodentex aureolineatus’ at 22 cm. Here’s some interesting species we’ve seen so far:

Hoplolatilus starcki, or HOST, the starks tilefish

Triaenodon obesus, or TROB, a whitetip reef shark

Exallias brevis, or EXBR, the leopard blenny

Cirrhitichthys falco, or CIFL, the dwarf hawkfish

Here's Paula Ayotte pausing to write down some species codes during a survey:
and here's what a data sheet looks like after a survey:

If you are lucky and discover a new species, you get to name it. I think the species name kaylynii sounds great. Keep that in mind, all of you aspiring fish biologists.

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