Reef Life Survey (RLS) around New Zealand region: Invertebrates

Latest version published on 09 August 2018
This resource has not been registered with GBIF
Publication date:
09 August 2018
Published by:
No organisation
CC-BY 4.0

Download the latest version of this resource data as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) or the resource metadata as EML or RTF:

Data as a DwC-A file download 3,900 records in English (108 KB) - Update frequency: irregular
Metadata as an EML file download in English (7 KB)
Metadata as an RTF file download in English (8 KB)


Reef Life Survey is designed to develop and resource a network of skilled recreational divers for rapid and cost-effective assessment of the state of the inshore marine environment at the global scale. The project uses standardised underwater visual census methods employed by trained SCUBA divers to survey fish and invertebrate species and to record habitat type using photo quadrats - this dataset refers to the invertebrate survey component only.

The dataset generated by recreational divers provides a national framework for monitoring the state of the inshore environment and the identification of those threats and locations of greatest conservation concern. The project also increases awareness and interest by the recreational diving community in marine issues, and enhanced scientific capacity of personnel in regional areas.

This dataset is a subset of the whole collection for the New Zealand and south western Pacific region only. For the full recod, visit http://reeflifesurvey.com/reef-life-survey/survey-data/

Data Records

The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 3,900 records.

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.


The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Edgar G and Stuart-Smith, RD (2017): Reef Life Survey (RLS): Invertebrates. v1. No organisation. Dataset/Occurrence. https://nzobisipt.niwa.co.nz/resource?r=reef_life_inverts


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.

GBIF Registration

This resource has not been registered with GBIF


Occurrence; Observation


Graham Edgar
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Associate Professor
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Kevin Mackay
  • Metadata Provider
Marine Database Manager
Private Bag 14-901
6241 Wellington
New Zealand
Rick Stuart-Smith
Research Fellow
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania (UTAS)

Geographic Coverage

New Zealand and south western Pacific region

Bounding Coordinates South West [-60, -105], North East [0, 166]

Sampling Methods

RLS applies globally standardised visual census methods used and developed in over 20 years of shallow reef biodiversity research. These involve divers recording fish and invertebrate species seen along underwater transects using underwater paper and a pencil. Although not high-tech, when undertaken by experienced surveyors, these allow coverage of species not able to be recorded by other methods, and are cost and time-effective. Photographs are also taken of the coral or seaweed cover on each survey. The complete methods cover the majority of plants and animals > 2.5 cm which make up the life of rocky and coral reefs.

Study Extent New Zealand and south western Pacific region

Method step description:

  1. Data entry is completed via specially-designed Excel templates which contain species and site lists for specific regions.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Edgar, GJ and Stuart-Smith, RD, “Systematic global assessment of reef fish communities by the Reef Life Survey program”, Scientific Data, 1 Article 140007. doi:10.1038/sdata.2014.7 ISSN 2052-4463 (2014)

Additional Metadata

marine, harvested by iOBIS