All surveys were carried out by the principal researcher using Rapid Ecological Assessment. The dataset runs from May 1996 to early 2009 from 180 reef locations, spread relatively evenly along and across the whole Great Barrier Reef (GBR). On each reef 1-3 sites were surveyed with up to 5 transects (usually 200-300m long, 1-3m wide for 10-15 minutes) per site at pre-defined depths (1-3m, 3-8m, ... 8-13m, 13-18m and reef flat).
Species recorded: octocorals (soft corals, gorgonians, sea fans, sea whips, sea pens, leather corals, arborescent octocorals, blue coral, stoloniferans), black and wire coral. Note that species are mostly at generic level. Octocoral genera (in some cases species) were given a taxon abundance ranking (0=absent, 1=rare, 2=uncommon, 3=common, 4=abundant, 5=dominant).
Additional information was collected during the surveys recording - site variables, visual estimates of abundance for other groups besides octocorlas, zooxanthellate richness. This data is not included in the dataset served to OBIS. Comparable data are held for Hong Kong, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait, and Rowley Shoals (WA).
Purpose To determine spatial patterns and abiotic controls of soft coral biodiversity: allowing examination of relationships of reef location (in-shore, mid-shelf and off-shore), environmental conditions and depth to taxonomic composition and richness. Because roughly half Octocorals have photosynthetic symbionts they are ideal to assess how biodiversity is related to spatial and environmental factors, and photosynthetic symbionts and energy supply. To examine principal drivers of biodiversity, community composition, and ranges of coral reef benthos.
Total Distribution Records: 15,875
Total Number of Taxa: 23 families, 65 genera, 11 species
Fabricius and Alderslade S (2001), Soft Corals and Sea Fans, Published data and collections available in research centres.
Fabricius KE and De'ath AG (2001), Biodiversity on the Great Barrier Reef: Large-scale patterns and turbidity-related local loss of soft coral taxa., Chapter 9. pp. 127-144.
Fabricius KE and De'ath AG (2001), Environmental factors associated with the spatial distribution of crustose coralline algae on the Great Barrier Reef., Coral Reefs, 19, 303-309
Fabricius KE, De'ath AG, McCook LJ, Turak EI and Williams DMcB (2005), Changes in algal, coral and fish assemblages along water quality gradients on the inshore Great Barrier Reef., Marine Pollution Bulletin, 51, 384-398
Fabricius KE and De'ath AG (2008), Photosynthetic symbionts and energy supply determine octocoral biodiversity in coral reefs., Ecology, 89, 3163-3173
van Oppen MJH, Mieog JC, Sanchez C and Fabricius KE (2005), Diversity of algal endosymbionts (zooxanthellae) in octocorals from three oceans: the roles of geography and host relationships., Molecular Ecology, 14, 2403-2417
Wolanski, Eric (2001), Oceanographic Processes of Coral Reefs: Physical and Biological Links in the Great Barrier Reef, CRC Press, 356