recor : monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages

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RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Coralligenous habitat, what is it?
In Mediterranean sea, deep coastal systems are colonized by coralligenous assemblages between 12/-50 m and -40/-120 meters depending on the water transparency (Ballesteros, 2006). The
coralligenous habitat consists of blocks of organic concretions, mainly calcareous algae (Laborel
1961; Laubier, 1966; Sartoretto et al, 1996; Ballesteros, 2006) and animal builders such as
bryozoans, serpulids, cnidarians, mollusks, sponges, crustaceans and foraminifera (Hong , 1980;
Ros et al, 1985). These reefs are a great substrate for the attachment and growth of other
organisms such as red coral colonies or gorgonians. The coralligenous assemblages are a complex
patchwork of micro- habitats and species. Their species richness, biomass and productivity are
equivalent to those of tropical reef assemblages (Bianchi, 2001). Coralligenous habitat is, after the
Posidonia seagrass beds, the second key benthic ecosystem of the Mediterranean in terms of
biodiversity (Boudouresque, 2004).
Coralligenous habitats are reefs composed on organic concretions. These are an excellent substrate for the fixation and
growth of other organisms like gorgonians or sponges.
RECOR, a monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Despite its high ecological and economic value, spatio-temporal surveys
focusing on coralligenous habitats are rare. Supported by the Water
Agency Rhône Mediterranean and Corsica, the RECOR network covers
the entire French Mediterranean coast bordered by the three regions
Corsica, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) and Languedoc-Roussillon (LR). RECOR’s objectives
are to collect data describing the state and functioning of the coralligenous habitat
according to an adapted and standardized methodology and follow their changes in time and
space. All of these data aim to complete data obtained otherwise in order to evaluate in fine the
environmental quality of coastal water bodies as requested by the Water Framework Directive
(WFD). Each water body comprises at least one RECOR site.
Localization of the sites
RECOR includes 70 sites,
some of which are sampled
at different depths (=
started in June 2010 in the
stations. It was completed
in 2011 by 53 stations
around Corsica in 2012 and
25 stations in the LR area.
These 120 stations are
distributed between 17
and 90 meters deep and
are monitored every three
years at the end of spring
Localization of the RECOR sites
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Materials and methods
The method chosen for the monitoring of coralligenous assemblages is non-destructive, objective,
fast, and provides detailed and quantitative data. It takes into account three types of measures: a
general description of the site and the measure of abiotic factors, the cover percentages of
non-living (sludge, sand, debris, etc…) and living (fixed and visible macro-species) structures at
each station, and demographic data concerning erected species (gorgonians especially).
a) General description of the site
At each site, GPS coordinates are collected from the boat. They correspond to the location of a
steel spike (50 cm long) set within the coralligenous reef. This stake marked with a label also
indicates the beginning of the transect for photographic quadrats.
The diver notes:
 the typology of the coralligenous habitat (bank, rim);
 the presence of particular structures;
 the porosity, complexity and crevices within the concretions;
 the presence, nature and heights of the different strata;
 the geographical orientation and the orientation relative to the
 the coralligenous bathymetric extent, bathymetric extent of
 the seabed slope, the water temperature and visibility;
 the observation of species with particular interest (invasive
species, protected species, species with legacy interest…);
 anthropogenic impacts.
b) Realization of photographic quadrats at each station
Stainless steel stake with a
small buoy and label
40 photographic quadrats of 50x50 cm are realized at each station (same depth) along a 20-meter
long transect.
The photographic quadrat and apparatus used for RECOR
Cappo di Muro -60 m
Sanguinaires -70 m
Lavezzi -50 m
Examples of photographic quadrats taken in Corsica
Among these pictures, 30 are randomly drawn and analyzed with the software CPCE
at This version of Coral Point Count with
Excel ® extension (CPCE, Kohler and Gill, 2006) software was designed in 2011 under
RECOR, in partnership with the National Coral Reef Institute (USA).
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
The software distributes 64 random points on each of the 30 photographic quadrats,
representing 1920 points per station. The features underlying the points are user-identified (by a
unique observer). Under each photo quadrat being analyzed appears the list of species likely to be
identified. A picture available for each species may help for the identification.
Photographic quadrat being analyzed with 64 random points
Hundred quantitative variables are extracted from these analyzes such as:
- Cover percentage for non-living (sludge, crevice, biological debris) substrate and relative
abundance of living structures: actiniarians, alcyonarians, ascidians, asterids, brown algae, green
algae, red algae, crinoids, echinoderms, erect bryozoans, encrusting bryozoans, large foraminifera,
gorgonians, hydroids, scleractinians, sedentary worms, Zoantharians.
- Relative abundance for particularly important taxa: Mesophyllum sp,
Lithophyllum sp and encrustin and erect Peyssonnelia sp (building), red coral
Corallium rubrum (protection and commercial use), Axinella sp (protection of
Axinella polypoides and
fragile because of the erect bearing), algae
Caulerpa taxifolia or C. racemosa (invasive), the sponge Cliona sp and the
urchin Echinus melo (eroder), the ascidia Halocynthia papillosa (indicator of
diving pressure, Sala et al. 1996), filamentous algae, worms Filograna sp /
Salmacina sp (indicator of degradation, Ballesteros, comm. pers.).
Red coral
- Relative abundance for functionnal groups of taxa : major builders (algae
Mesophyllum sp., Litophyllum sp. and Peyssonnelia sp., yellow solitary corals
Leptopsammia pruvoti, madreporian Caryophyllia inornata, Foraminifera
Miniacina miniacea), eroders (sponges Cliona sp., the urchins Echinus melo,
and Sphaerechinus granularis), erect taxa (gorgonians such as Paramuricea clavata, Eunicella
cavolinii, Eunicella singularis, red coral Corallium rubrum, high erect bryozoans and sponges
Axinella sp), invasive algae (Caulerpa sp., Womersleyella setacea), taxa with legacy interest
(Spongia officinalis, Axinella polypoides, Savalia savaglia, Astroides calycularis, Paracentrotus
lividus, Centrostephanus longispinus, Ophidiaster ophidianus, etc.).
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
1. Melon urchin Echinus melo ; 2. Yellow solitary coral Leptosammia pruvoti ; 3. Axinella polypoides.
c) Demographic data concerning erect species at each site (principally gorgonians)
Erect species are known for being fragile. At each site, we evaluate their density, size and structure
in size. These data allow monitoring population health condition.
Diver counting the number of gorgonians and measuring the colonies.
Density and size of colonies are measured at a same depth within a 2 m2 quadrat (8 quadrats of
50x50 cm). For the size, a measure of height and width is done with a graduated ruler (5-cm
accuracy) (Sartoretto 2003).
The necrosis rate of erect species (mortality of one part or
of the entire colony) is measured in 30 random quadrats
of 50 x 50 cm (at a same depth) according five classes:
1: 0% necrosis, the colony is entirely healthy;
2: <0 to 10 % of surface with necrosis;
3: 10 to 50 % of surface with necrosis;
4: < 50 % of surface with necrosis;
5: 100 % of necrosis, the colony is entirely dead.
Paramuricea clavata
These necroses are also dated (by colonization) and their distribution is estimated (localized or
diffuse). This technique gives good results (Perez, 2002; Harmelin and Marinopoulos, 1994) and
was envisaged during the project creation “Gorgonian monitoring network” (Sartoretto, 2003).
These measurements allow to extract variables for each
species of gorgonian: the number of colonies and density per
m², the number of small (<15 cm) and large colonies (> 50
cm), the average height and width of colonies, the maximum
height, number and percentage of colonies with necrosis
according to 5 classes, the total number colonies with
necrosis, the number and percentage of colonies with recent
necrosis, average and maximal date and rate of necrosis or
each species, the average size of the species, the number
and proportion of individuals of each species showing
necrosis little or highly colonized (recent or old necrosis).
P. macrospina
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
The analysis of the variables extracted from the photographic quadrats informs us about the
conservation status of coralligenous communities. The 1920 points identified at each station are
used to calculate the cover percentages of different taxa (number of points identified for the taxon
/ total number of points) * 100) as well as siltation, crevice and diversity indices.
Distribution diagrams for the different identified taxa are available for each site sampled.
Algues brunes
Brown algae
Bryozoaires encroutants
Encrusting bryozoan
Algues rouges encroutantes
Erect bryozoans
Bryozoaires érigés
Erect red algae
Algues rouges érigées
Green algae
Algues vertes
Sedentary worms
Vers sédentaires
Sludge, pavement,
sand, ruble
vase, roche, sable, débris
Non identified
Non identifié
Example of distribution diagram for the different groups identified on photographic quadrats (total of 1920 points) for a
station in Corsica. Cover percentages are presented on the right.
For a given parameter, the cover percentage may be associated with a cursor repositioning
the observed value within the regional context (minimum, maximum and average values observed
in a region (Corsica, PACA, LR) at all sites sampled in this region.
Legend of the imaged cursor associated with each detailed parameter. Are shown the mean and the maximum and
minimum values observed for the parameter at all sites sampled in a region. Each color corresponds to one fifth of the
extent of the observed values for the parameter concerned.
Note: Clarification concerning the percentages presented on MEDTRIX
On the website, the results are presented in percentages. Nevertheless the
percentages concerning the taxa are similar to relative abundances as they are calculated
considering only living points (non-living points are not considered). Sedimentation is treated with
the non-living structures. The tables always indicate in first variables the percentage of living and
non-living structures in order to clarify on what proportion the analyses are based.
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Example of cover percentages obtained for a site in Corsica in 2011 (Site Tabernacle within the
golfe of Ajaccio), sampled at different depths between -40m and -90m.
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
The variables obtained from the analyzes of photographic quadrats allow to calculate a
disturbance index (sum of invasive species cover percentages) and the CAI (Coralligenous
Assemblages Index, Deter et al., 2012a) assessing the ecological status of the station. We are
working on an improved CAI (defined in PACA) in order to integrate data from Corsica and LR.
Consequently, in Corsica CAI should only be considered as an indication.
The CAI includes the following variables: the sludge cover percentage, builder cover percentage
and bryozoans cover percentage (= bryo). More the ecological quality ratio (EQR) of a site
combining these three variables compared to their respective references (EQR ') is close to 1 and
more the ecological status is considered as high. The EQR is the ratio of the observed value and
the reference value.
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
CAI, whose value is between 0 and 1, is used to classify each station of PACA and LR in one of the
five WFD classes (bad, poor, moderate, good, high) and so for the long-term monitoring of
coastal water bodies quality.
EQR’ bryo = % bryozoans / 7.423
If the station < -45 m :
EQR’sludge = (100 - % sludge) / (100 - 26,920)
EQR’ builders = % builders / 32,326
If the station > -45 m :
EQR’sludge = (100 - % sludge) /(100- 12,093)
EQR’ builders = % builders / 29,039
EQR = (EQR’sludge + EQR’bryo + EQR’ builders) / 3
With EQR = Ecological quality ratio. The EQR value is used to
classify each station in one of the five WFD classes for the
ecological status.
Ecological status (WFD)
The CAI integrates 3 variables: sludge,
calculation of EQR and EQR’ is presented here
opposite The reference values used for the CAI
calculation in PACA and LR can not apply in
Corsica where reference values seem to be
totally different. The Analyses that will validate
the CAI in Corsica and test the relevance of
other parameters for this index are currently in
Maps presenting the CAI value for each station, the sludge cover percent, main builders cover
percent and the disturbance index may be realized on the cartographic platform medtrix
Map realized on the cartographic platform and presenting the CAI values for several RECOR stations.
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Map realized on the cartographic platform and presenting the sludge percent covers for several RECOR stations.
Map realized with the cartographic platform and presenting the disturbance index for several RECOR stations.
RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Map realized with the cartographic platform and presenting builders cover percents for several RECOR stations.
Concerning the erect species, descriptive tables, graphs and standardized cards are created in
link with Excel®.
Examples of graph realized for erect species. See the number of colonies and the proportion of colonies with necrosis > 10 % in
several stations of Corsica in 2011.
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RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
PhD thesis linked to RECOR
A PhD thesis is in progress (Florian Holon, Grantv Labex CeMED/Andromède océanologie, 20132016) in link with ISEM ( at the university of Montpellier 2
( and Andromède Océanologie at Carnon (France). The title of
the thesis is "Diveristy of coralligenous assemblages along the French Mediterranean coast: study
of the distribution mechanisms and applications for the monitoring of the conservation status and
the quality of coastal water bodies”. On the basis of RECOR data, several questions are raised:
importance the coralligenous habitat at the scale of the Mediterranean coast (surface, volume,
biomass), diversity (taxonomic, functionnal or phylogenetic) distribution of the coralligenous
assemblages in function of environmental and anthropogenic pressures.
Network carriers
a) French Water Agency RMC
Created by the Water Act in 1964, the Water Agency is a public institution of the State under the
Its mission is to contribute to improving water management, fighting against pollution and
protecting aquatic environments. The Water Agency focuses on three main areas:
• the fight against pollution;
• the conservation and management of water resources;
• the support for the improvement of knowledge and cooperation betweenstakeholders in
the water sector.
Since the early 1990s the Agency has led specific actions on Mediterranean coastal and offshore
b) Andromède Océanologie
Andromède océanologie is a French independent company, highly experienced, able to conduct any
type of project linked to the study and valuation of the marine environment.
Andromède océanologie activities are organized into three divisions:
- Consulting: Andromede is doing bathymetry, habitats cartography, species inventories, but also
ecological engineering and management plans.
- R&D: it focuses on the production of scientific knowledge, mainly on the two richest ecosystems
in terms of biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea: Posidonia seagrass and the coralline. This
division is also responsible for improving the monitoring of coastal waters by evaluating the
ecological status of these ecosystems through TEMPO, RECOR and SURFSTAT networks.
- Valuation. Its main missions consist in the valuation and exploration of the underwater
environment and the dissemination of knowledge to the general public through the management of
Laurent Ballesta’s image bank. Andromède also makes documentaries, exhibitions, books, articles
and illustrations in the mainstream press.
To better educate the public about the beauty and fragility of the underwater world, our office in
Carnon (34) consists of an image gallery, a specialized library, a retail space dedicated to the
marine environment as well as a diving center (Andromède Plongée Bio).
The Science of the Universe Observatory – Mediterranean Research Observatory of Environment
(OSU OREME) is an observatory of the risk and of the global and anthropogenic change. The main
task of OREME is to collect, put together and share physical, chemical and biological data coming
from observation in order to assess the effect of global and/or anthropogenoc change and to
understand the mechanisms (hazard, vulnerability) involved in their environmental effects. Its
objective are: fundamental science, education and especially long term continuous observation of
the natural environment.
Web site:
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RECOR: Monitoring network for coralligenous assemblages
Bibliographic references
Ballesteros E. 2006. Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages: a synthesis of present knowledge.
Oceanography and Marine Biology: An annual Review. 44: 123-195.
Bianchi, C.N., 2001. La biocostruzione negli ecosistemi marini e la biologia marina italiana. Biologia
Marina Mediterranea. 8 (1): 112–130 (in Italian).
Boudouresque, C.F., 2004. Marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean: status of species, populations
and communities. Scientific Reports of Port-Cros National Park. 20: 97–146.
Deter, J., Descamp P., Ballesta, L., Boissery, P., Holon, F. 2012a. A preliminary study toward an
index based on coralligenous assemblages for the ecological status assessment of
Mediterranean French coastal waters. Ecological Indicators. 20: 345-35217.
Deter, J., Descamp P., Boissery, P., Ballesta, L., Holon, F. 2012b. A rapid photographic method
detects depth gradient in coralligenous assemblages. Journal of Expérimental Marine Biology
and Ecology. 418-419 (2012) : 75-82.
Hong J-S.1980. Etude faunistique d'un fond de concrétionnement de type coralligène soumis à un
gradient de pollution en Méditerranée nord-occidentale (Golfe de Fos). Thèse de Doctorat,
Université Aix-Marseille II: 268p.
Holon F., Descamp P., Boissery P., Deter J., 2010. Mise en place d’un protocole pour la
caractérisation et le suivi du coralligène, Application sur 41 sites en région PACA entre −90
m et −35 m. Report L’Oeil d’Andromede/Agence de l’Eau.
Kohler K E et Gill S M. 2006. Coral Point Count with Excel extensions (CPCe): A Visual Basic
program for the determination of coral and substrate coverage using random point count
methodology. Computers & Geosciences. 32: 1259–1269.
Laubier L. 1966. Le coralligène des Albères: monographie biocénotique. Annales de l'Institut
Océanographique de Monaco. 43: 139-316.
Laborel J. 1961. Le concrétionnement algal "coralligène" et son importance géomorphologique en
Méditerranée. Recueil des Travaux de la Station Marine d’Endoume. 23: 37-60.
Ros J., Romero J., Ballesteros E. et Gili J-M. 1985. The circalittoral hard bottom communities: the
coralligenous. In: Margalef edits. Western Mediterranean. Pergamon Press, Oxford: 263–273.
Sartoretto S. 2003. Le Réseau de Surveillance Gorgones en région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azue :
Deuxième campagne de mesure et recommandations. Conseil Régional PACA/Agence de
l’Eau de l’Eau RMC/DIREN PACA/Conseil Général 13/Conseil Général 83/Conseil Général
06/Ville de Marseille/GIS Posidonie/Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille. GIS Posidonie publ.,
Marseille, Fr. 1-81.
Sartoretto S., Verlaque M. et Laborel J. 1996. Age of settlement and accumulation rate of
submarine ‘‘coralligene’’ (-10 to -60 m) of the north western Mediterranean Sea, relation to
Holocene rise in sea level. Marine Geology. 130: 317–331.
This document should be cited as follows:
Andromède Océanologie 2013. Brochure presenting RECOR, a monitoring network for coralligenous
assemblages in mediterranean sea. Andromède – Agence de l’eau RMC publ. 12p.
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