The Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems (CReefs) project, a part of the Census of Marine Life, aimed to increase our knowledge of coral reef species and share global data about coral reef ecosystems.
The Census of Marine Life brought together coral reef scientists from around the world to learn more about the biodiversity of the world's reefs and to develop new methods of measuring that diversity. Two major outcomes of the coral reef project of the Census are the methodolgies for standardized sampling of coral reefs through Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) and the molecular analyses of reef biodiversity using DNA sampling.
Monitoring and assessing coral reef biodiversity is a difficult process, especially in regards to dealing with subjectivity, biases and inconsistencies of the methods and observers. Because of this, ARMS were developed as a systematic sampling tool that allows for better comparisons across the global ocean -- over time and space. Molecular barcoding can then allow scientists to more efficiently and systematically identify reef species through genetic analysis, rather than visual identification.