Reef Check Australia (RCA) has collected data on benthic composition and cover at > 70 sites along > 1000 km of Australia's Queensland coast from 2002 to 2015. This paper quantifies the accuracy, precision and power of RCA benthic composition data, to guide its application and interpretation. A simulation study established that the inherent accuracy of the Reef Check point sampling protocol is high (<± 7% error absolute), in the range of estimates of benthic cover from 1% to 50%. A field study at three reef sites indicated that, despite minor observer- and deployment-related biases, the protocol does reliably document moderate ecological changes in coral communities. The error analyses were then used to guide the interpretation of inter-annual variability and long term trends at three study sites in RCA's major 2002–2015 data series for the Queensland coast.
Done, T., Roelfsema, C., Harvey, A., Schuller, L., Hill, J., Schläppy, M-L., ... Loder, J. (2017). Reliability and utility of citizen science reef monitoring data collected by Reef Check Australia, 2002-2015. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 17(1-2), 148-155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.01.054