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- Development of New Methods for Quantifying Fish Density Using Underwater Stereo-video Tools
- The use of video camera systems in ecological studies of fish continues to gain traction as a viable, non-extractive method of measuring fish lengths and estimating fish abundance. We developed and implemented a rotating stereo-video camera tool that covers a full 360 degrees of sampling, which maximizes sampling effort compared to stationary camera tools. A variety of studies have detailed the ability of static, stereo-camera systems to obtain highly accurate and precise measurements of fish; the focus here was on the development of methodological approaches to quantify fish density using rotating camera systems. The first approach was to develop a modification of the metric MaxN, which typically is a conservative count of the minimum number of fish observed on a given camera survey. We redefine MaxN to be the maximum number of fish observed in any given rotation of the camera system. When precautions are taken to avoid double counting, this method for MaxN may more accurately reflect true abundance than that obtained from a fixed camera. Secondly, because stereo-video allows fish to be mapped in three-dimensional space, precise estimates of the distance-from-camera can be obtained for each fish. By using the 95% percentile of the observed distance from camera to establish species-specific areas surveyed, we account for differences in detectability among species while avoiding diluting density estimates by using the maximum distance a species was observed. Accounting for this range of detectability is critical to accurately estimate fish abundances. This methodology will facilitate the integration of rotating stereo-video tools in both applied science and management contexts.
- Denney, Fields, Gleason, Starr