Data for: Citizen Science Benefits Coral Reef Restoration Activities
Rescue a Reef Expeditions as an Education Tool To assess the education value and impact, and the satisfaction level of RAR expeditions, we developed a survey instrument using Google Forms (Appendix A). Upon completion of each expedition, the survey was distributed via email to participants. Repeat participants were not asked to respond more than once. The survey was designed to record information on: 1) volunteer demographics (e.g., age, sex, diving experience); 2) prior knowledge of reef ecology and threats; 3) expedition satisfaction; and 4) knowledge acquired during the expedition. Efficacy of the Coral Restoration conducted by Citizen Scientists While the primary goal of the RAR expeditions is education and outreach, participants also contribute directly to reef restoration through coral transplantation. Thus, we evaluated whether the corals outplanted by citizen scientists had the same survivorship as corals outplanted by trained restoration scientists. Trained restoration scientists had a minimum of 6 months of experience conducting coral outplanting. We hypothesized there would be no difference in coral mortality between outplants deployed by the two groups. Therefore, we conducted a paired field experiment where A. cervicornis colonies of the same size (15-25 cm in total linear extension) were outplanted by expert restoration practitioners using the same methodologies 1-6 days after the corresponding RAR expedition. This experiment was conducted on three reefs in the vicinity of Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, with 50 staghorn corals outplanted by each group (citizen scientists and experts) on each reef (Emerald Reef (9.7 m; N 25.674, W 80.097), Barge Reef (5.5 m; N 25.676, W 80.101), and Diver’s Paradise Reef (5.2 m; N 25.660, W 80.097)). Corals were labeled with a numbered tag for tracking (Fig. 1e). One month after outplanting, visual surveys of the restored corals were conducted to evaluate coral status, estimated as the proportion of living tissue (0-100%) for each coral (Fig. 1f). All corals outplanted had 100% live tissue cover at the time of deployment. Percent tissue mortality was compared between citizen scientists and experts using a Wilcoxon test.