ARMS - Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures

ARMS boxes are small, tiered platforms [grey, on the right] made of piled up plates of PVC, separated by spacers, affixed to the seafloor that are deployed for one to three years. Once these structures are recovered, each plate will be photographied, and the organisms collected, then the scientists will perform genomic analyses on the organisms which had settled on the ARMS in order to create a catalogue of diversity which will be compared to sites around the world.

An ASUs Artificial Substrate Units [yellow, on the left], conceived to imitate the cramps of algae, completes the installation. It is made up of four pan scourers tied together on a stake planted in the vicinity of a ARMS. The mesh layers and holes within the scourers provide a plethora of living spaces for various organisms. Once removed from the water, they will be preserved and the animals which settled there will be identified, weighed and counted.

They were originally created to monitor coral reefs diversity. Their expansion along the European coasts became possible thanks to the programme DEVOTES.

Knowledge of these lesser-known organisms and the overall diversity of the reef is critical to effectively responding to stressors to coral reefs and other complex habitats. In the face of global threats to reefs such as climate change, scientists are concerned that much reef
/complex habibat biodiversity could be lost before it is even documented.

ARMS were developed by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service and Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems partners as a Census of Marine Life (CoML) legacy.

link to ARMS
ARMS’ logistics PDF
Parts PDF, Assembly PDF and Deployement PDF of ARMS boxes
Uninstallation and organisms processings PDF
Coordinators of DEVOTES’ WP5 Innovative Tools

Pristine ARMS and ASU (photo F. Zuberer)

What Purposes do the ARMS Serve?
- Provides a standard method for taxonomic and molecular analysis to assess invertebrate biodiversity
- Improves ability to measure/monitor diversity of cryptic organisms globally over time
- Enhances ecosystem-based management
- Increases ability to monitor/predict ecological impacts of global climate change, particularly ocean warming and acidification

With an increasing scarcity of trained invertebrate taxonomists, ARMS enable researchers to obtain information using molecular techniques, particularly for small, cryptic organisms that constitute the bulk of reef / complex habitats diversity.

This purpose matches up with the themes of the SeasEra programme CIGESMED (Coralligenous based Indicators to evaluate and monitor the “Good Environmental Status” of the MEDiterranean coastal waters) and of the IMBE’s “research axis 7” (Management of biodiversity and natural habitats).

The deployment of ARMS and ASUs, for metagenomic studies in DEVOTES, is progressing in different European places: Basque Country, English Channel, Marseille and Baltic Sea.

- Sites de Méditerranée Nord-occidentale
- Deployements Ile Riou / Ile de l’Elvine / Cassidaigne
- Monitorings Ile Riou / Ile de l’Elvine / Cassidaigne