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Collect Data

Select a project from your list to enter the project’s “Collect” page.

The ‘Collect’ page is where you can add new sample unit observations and view other observations you have already collected and saved but not yet submitted. The red number next to the “Collecting” tab in the left-hand toolbar indicates the number of records you have collected and saved but not yet submitted.

Only users with ‘Collector’ or ‘Administrator’ roles can collect and submit new observations; ‘Read-only’ users cannot collect records.

The “Backup” button at the top of the page will export all collected observations in JSON format for saving to your local drive. This provides an additional backup in case of emergency that you can save to a thumb drive or email to yourself before your records are able to automatically synchronize when online using the Wi-Fi connection. 

Observations can be added and backed up both online and offline, but they can only be validated and submitted on a WiFi connection.

The “Method” button at the top of the page will display collected records by sample method; check the methods you would like displayed.

The “Status” button at the top of the page will display collected records by their validation status: saved, validated, warnings, and errors. An observation row will be highlighted in white if a record has been saved but not validated; a row will be highlighted in purple if it has been saved and validated and no errors or warnings were identified; a row will be highlighted in red if it was saved and an error(s) was found; a row will be highlighted in yellow if it was saved and a warning(s) was found. 

A) Add new sites and management regimes 

The left-hand toolbar lists a project’s info, users, sites and management regimes, and data sharing. Here you can add a new site or management regime directly to a project when online. Admins and collectors can use these “new site” and “new management” functions.

Adding a new site

Navigate to the “Sites” tab and select “New Site” 

A new site requires a name, country, coordinates, and details on the exposure, reef type, and reef zone. The name can be the site’s common name or unique ID. When all details have been added, save the site. In the “Sites” tab you can choose “Copy sites from other projects” to add existing sites and their metadata from other MERMAID projects. You can also add a site directly from an observation page by clicking the ‘+’ sign next to the site dropdown field.

When online, a new site created by one user is shared across the project with all other users and available for them to use in observations. If you know the sampling sites within your project in advance, it is easiest to add them while online before going to the field. New sites can be created offline, and then will be synced when back online.

New sites with matching metadata that are created offline by different users within a project can be merged when users are back online. If multiple new sites have identical coordinates, they will be flagged as duplicate sites. If this happens, you will see a warning under the “Sites” tab that says “Duplicate Sites”. When you navigate into the “Sites” tab, you will see a notification at the top of the page that the project appears to have duplicate sites. Click “Resolve” to decide whether to merge the duplicate sites or keep them separate.

A modal will show you which sites are considered duplicates. Here you can decide whether to keep one site and merge it with the duplicate sites, or to edit a site and change the metadata to indicate that they actually are separate, unique sites. Unique sites must have different coordinates.

If you choose to keep a site, the sites that will be merged with the site you chose to keep will be highlighted in red. Select “OK” to confirm.

When sites have been merged, the sites will be updated with the single merged site, and this merged site will automatically be assigned to all sample units that were using the duplicate sites. All observation data will be preserved.

Adding a new management regime

Navigate to the “Management” tab and select “New MR”

A new management regime requires a name and year established. All other details are optional. When you are finished, save the management regime. You can also delete the management with the “delete this record” button at the bottom.

In the “Management Regimes” tab you can also choose “Copy MRs from other projects” to add existing management regimes and their metadata from other MERMAID projects. You can also add a management regime directly from an observation page by clicking the ‘+’ sign next to the management regime dropdown field.

When online, a new management regime created by one user is shared across the project with all other users and available for them to use in observations. If you know the management regimes within your project in advance, it is easiest to add them while online before going to the field. Management regime details can be edited after creation if needed. New management regimes can be created offline, and then will be synced when back online.

If multiple management regimes with identical names are created offline by different users within a project, and are assigned to the same site, they will be flagged as duplicate management regimes. If this happens, you will see a warning under the “Management Regimes” tab that says “Duplicate management regimes”. When you navigate into the “Management Regimes” tab you will see a notification at the top of the page that the project appears to have duplicate management regimes. You will also see this warning at the top of the sample unit that has the duplicate management regimes.

These management regimes can be merged or kept separate when users are back online. Click “Resolve” in the Management Regimes tab to decide whether to merge the duplicate management regimes or keep them separate.

A modal will show you which management regimes are considered duplicates. Here you can decide whether to keep just one management regime or to edit a management regime and change the metadata to indicate that they actually are separate, unique management regimes. Unique management regimes must have different names.

If you want to keep just one management regime, select the “Keep this MR” button. The duplicate management regimes(s) that will be merged with the management regime you choose to keep will be highlighted in red. This merged management regime will now be assigned to all sample units that had used the duplicate management regime. All observation data will be preserved. If you want to keep both management regimes, select “cancel” and ignore all warnings of duplicate management regimes.

A duplicate management regime can also be changed to another existing management regime within the transect using the “Resolve” button next to the warning; you can select a different management regime from your list if you accidentally assigned the duplicated management regime. You cannot merge duplicate management regimes from the transect, however, and must complete this process in the “Management Regimes” tab as described above.

B) Enter a transect

When you’re ready to enter new data for a project, click “Add Sample Unit” at the top right of the Collect page and select a sample unit.

There are currently four types of sample units available on MERMAID: reef fish belt transects, coral point intercept (PIT) transects, coral line intercept (LIT) transects, and habitat complexity transects. These transects are similar to methods described in the Coral Reef Monitoring Protocol for Assessing Marine Protected Areas (Ahmadia et. al 2013) (Appendix 2).

After selecting a transect type, you must fill in all required fields, marked with a red asterisk. Sites and Management Regimes that you added before or after creating your project will appear in the dropdown, and you can edit an existing site with the pencil icon or enter a new site with the “+”.

Optional transect information includes: reef slope, visibility, current, relative depth, tide, and any notes.

Each transect requires at least one ‘observer’, defined as the person or people who collected the transect observations. This is a required field, and you can choose from a dropdown list of users associated with your project. To remove an observer, click the red ‘x’.

Once all required fields are completed, you can save the transect.

When online, you can then proceed to validating and submitting the transect. Offline, only the ‘Save’ button will appear.

Deleting a Transect

If you wish to delete a transect, click the delete record button at the bottom of any transect page. This will permanently remove the record and its observations from MERMAID, so be sure that you want to remove it.

C) Transect Types

Fish Belt transect

The fish belt transect records observations of fish abundance.

Each transect requires a transect number, length surveyed (m), and transect belt width (options: 2m, 5m or 10m). Users can select how fish sizes are estimated underwater, using 1cm, 5cm or 10cm size bins. The “label” field can be used to indicate a special type of fish belt transect, such as long-swim.

Observations are recorded at the bottom of the page.

After typing any three letters of an observed fish family, genus, or species, MERMAID will provide a predictive dropdown with names. This ensures all spelling is correct and consistent. Select the fish observation by using the ‘up’ or ‘down’ arrow keys or entering more letters so that there is only one choice and press the Enter or Return key to select a name. Indo-Pacific fish are included in this version of MERMAID and all fish names come from Fishbase. They can be found in the “Reference” icon at the header of any page. New fish family, genus, or species can be proposed to the MERMAID science team for approval and addition. Biomass will automatically be calculated in the last column.

To prevent errors in data entry, MERMAID will flag the following as a warnings and errors:

  • Total biomass less than 100 kg/ha or greater than 2,000 kg/ha
  • Total fish count less than 10
  • Total observations less than 5

NAVIGATION TIP: Navigating through the observation fields is similar to navigating in Excel: use the ‘tab’ keys to move across to the Size and Count (abundance) columns; at the end of a row, press “Enter” to create a blank row to enter a new fish observation; press “Tab” at the end of a row to duplicate fish species from the

Benthic LIT

This transect records observations of benthic cover from a benthic line intercept transect. Each transect requires a transect number and the surveyed length (m).

Enter the benthic observations from the transect at the bottom of the form.

MERMAID will predict the benthic attributes after you type the first three letters. This ensures all spelling is correct and consistent. Select the benthic attribute by using the ‘up’ or ‘down’ arrow keys or entering more letters so that there is only one choice, and press the Enter or Return key to select a name. Growth forms can be selected from the dropdown list or predicted by typing. Total length and percent cover of each benthic attribute will automatically be calculated at the bottom of the rows.

Indo-Pacific benthic attributes are included in this version of MERMAID. They can be found in the “Reference” icon at the header of any page. New benthic attributes can be proposed to the MERMAID science team for approval and addition.

NAVIGATION TIP: Use the ‘tab’ keys to move across to the attribute, growth form and length columns. At the end of the row, press Enter to create a blank row to add a new benthic attribute observation. If the same attribute is observed but with a different length, press the ‘Tab’ key at the end of the row to duplicate the benthic attribute in the next row

Benthic PIT

This transect records observations of benthic cover from a benthic point intercept transect (PIT) survey.

Each transect requires a transect number, the surveyed length (m), and the interval between point observations (m). E.g., counting points every 50 cm can be entered at 0.5m in the “Interval size” box.

Enter the benthic attribute observed at each point at the bottom of the page.

MERMAID will predict the benthic attributes after you type the first three letters. This ensures all spelling is correct and consistent. Select the benthic attribute by using the ‘up’ or ‘down’ arrow keys or entering more letters so that there is only one choice and press the Enter or Return key to select a name. Growth forms can be selected from the dropdown list or predicted by typing. Indo-Pacific benthic attributes are included in this version of MERMAID. They can be found in the “Reference” icon at the header of any page. New benthic attributes can be proposed to the MERMAID science team for approval and addition.

The number of rows should equal the total number of expected points based on your transect length and interval size. You will receive a warning if the number of entered rows does not match this.

The percent cover of each benthic attribute in the transect will automatically be calculated and displayed at the bottom of the rows.

NAVIGATION TIP: Use the ‘tab’ keys to move across to the attribute, growth form and length columns. At the end of the row, press Enter to create a blank row to add a new benthic attribute observation. If the same attribute is observed but with a different length, press the ‘Tab’ key at the end of the row to duplicate the benthic attribute in the next row.

Habitat Complexity

This transect records observations of benthic habitat complexity on a scale of 0 to 5, based on the methodology proposed in Wilson et al. (2007) and described in Darling et al. (2017) and Gurney and Darling (2017) (Appendix 2).

To enter a habitat complexity transect, you will need to provide a transect number, the surveyed transect length (m), and the interval between complexity observations (m). E.g., assessing complexity 5 m can be entered at ‘5 m’ in the “Interval size” box.

Enter the habitat complexity score at each interval at the bottom of the page. You must have as many rows of observations as you do intervals in the transect length.

NAVIGATION TIP: Use the ‘tab’ keys to move across the interval and habitat complexity score columns. At the end of the row, press Enter to create a blank row to add the next complexity observation. If the same habitat complexity is observed at the next interval, press the ‘Tab’ key at the end of the row to duplicate the row.

Coral Bleaching

This transect is a rapid assessment field method that can be used to quantify coral bleaching, based on the methodology proposed by McClanahan and Darling (2016). Users record observations of coral bleaching as percent bleached and percent coverage of benthic types.

To enter a coral bleaching transect, you will need to start with you quadrat size.

Observations are entered for ‘colonies bleached’ as percentages, and as percent coverage of benthic attributes.

NAVIGATION TIP: Use the ‘tab’ keys to move across the colonies bleached and percent cover columns. At the end of the row, press Enter to create a blank row to add the next complexity observation. If the same bleaching or percent cover is observed at the next interval, press the ‘Tab’ key at the end of the row to duplicate.

C) Saving a transect

Once you enter any new information into a transect you can save it using the button in the upper right corner of the page. The save button is bright green when there is new information to be saved. If the button is gray and says “saved”, you have already saved the transect and there is no new information to be saved.

After saving, you can always return to the transect to add or change data and information and resave. If you try to navigate away from a page with unsaved information, you will see a warning on the screen that you have unsaved data – choose “No” to stay on the transect and save; choose “Yes” to leave the transect unsaved.