Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS)
Systematic Tools to Assess Global Patterns and Temporal Trends in Coral Reef Biodiversity
Assessment and monitoring of coral reef biodiversity have been hampered by resource limitations, shortages of trained taxonomists, and subjectivity, biases, and inconsistencies of methods and observers. These challenges are particularly problematic for small and cryptic invertebrate taxa that comprise the majority of non-microbial reef diversity. Inspired by Zimmerman and Martin’s Artificial Reef Matrix Structures used to collect invertebrates in the Caribbean, CReefs and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led efforts to modify the design for ease of duplication, deployment, recovery, processing, and cost-effectiveness.
This resulted in the development of Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS), a systematic sampling tool to comparatively assess spatial patterns and monitor temporal trends in the diversity of poorly-known cryptic biota on coral reefs worldwide. Mimicking the structural complexity of benthic habitats to attract colonizing sessile and motile organisms, ARMS have been deployed in shallow (12-15 m) forereef coral habitats across biogeographic, oceanographic, and human impact gradients in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
Motile organisms found in the ARMS
Over 650 ARMS were deployed by NOAA and CReefs partners by 2011.