Spawning aggregations may be characterized in a number of ways. Most of these methods consist of recording the species present, FSA depth, area utilized and the profile or bathymetric features of the area. Marine resource managers may simply be interested in determining the general spatial area(s) used as FSAs for design of marine protected areas. Alternatively, managers may want additional details, such as abundance estimates to allow detection (temporal or spatial) of changes in FSAs following implementation of conservation measures or, alternatively, the effects of fishing in lieu of protection.
A number of useful resources that outline the methods for conducting such assessments are available. For these activities, we refer interested readers to consult one of the more detailed references that we list below, and suggest one or a combination for designing a monitoring plan, if appropriate. Each resource contains some or all of the information needed to conduct a successful characterization procedure; but for each species and locale, resource managers should bear in mind that the techniques described may require some alterations to fit their individual situation(s).
Workspace on ConserveOnline has a variety of these published reports available. Follow the link for more information or conduct your own search. Similarly, SCRFA has pdfs of a number of spawning aggregation publications.
The following resources contain methods for characterizing FSAs:
Introduction to monitoring of spawning aggregations of three grouper species in the Indo-Pacific: A manual for field practitioners (Pet et al. 2006) (download pdf, 3,812k)
Underwater visual census surveys (Samoilys 1997) (download pdf, 676k)
Additional information on underwater census techniques may be found in published peer-reviewed scientific journal articles on FSAs. Some of these are also available on the SCRFA website.