About the project


This project addresses knowledge gaps around levels of coral and fish recruitment and cost effective methods that may be developed to monitor recruitment, as one key indicator of ecosystem health and resilience.


  • Design parameters for a long-term monitoring program at NMP for coral reef fish communities including: baseline data, coral and fish recruitment relationships and the required levels of spatial and temporal replication; and
  • Develop a better understanding and assess the effectiveness of management zones (ie sanctuary zones vs non- sanctuary zones) in supporting recruitment.


  • Camera technique comparisons
  • Inter-observer comparisons of photo quadrats: comparing experience levels
  • Diver visual census comparisons
  • Stock recruitment relationships
  • Coral settlement tile deployment


This study specifically provides valuable baseline information on the recruitment characteristics and trends of corals and fish at Ningaloo through time and space. The overarching message from this study is that there is a large degree of natural variability associated with recruitment at Ningaloo. This study has tested and fine-tuned techniques for assessing fish recruitment that are simple, clear and Ningaloo specific.

Research Articles

Johansson CL, Bellwood DR, Depczynski M (2010) Sea urchins, macroalgae and coral reef decline: a functional evaluation of an intact reef system, Ningaloo, Western Australia. Mar Ecol Progr Ser 414: 65-74

Wilson, SK, Depczynski M, Fisher R, Holmes TH, O’Leary RA, Tinkler P (2010) Habitat associations of juvenile fish at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia: the importance of coral and algae. PloS One 5 (12): e15185.


Program: WAMSI 2006-2011

Completed: July 2011

Location: Ningaloo Marine Park

Project Leader: Martial Depczynski, AIMS




Final Report