Urban impact is becoming an increasing threat to coral reefs in many developing areas. A review of data on Mayor's transect in Pago Pago Harbor, with a baseline established in 1917, and of 10 years of reef monitoring transects elsewhere in American Samoa, has demonstrated major changes
in coral and algal communities on the reef flats. However, too little is known about natural variation in reef populations to identify human impacts with certainty. A monitoring program is being established to measure changes in the coral reefs in the urban area around Noumea, New Caledonia.
The monitoring sites will provide information on the principal components of the coral reef community and on basic water quality and pollution indicators. The data from the monitoring program will assist in designing pollution control facilities for the urban area. Despite some problems
of definition and experimental design, simple coral reef monitoring techniques are capable of providing useful scientific information on variability in reef communities.
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