Monitoring hard-bottom habitats is a challenge as these environments are three-dimensionally complex and inherently difficult to sample. In contrast to soft-bottom environments, which are widely sampled in a standardized fashion across countries and regions hard-bottom communities are usually studied only sporadically using video recordings and scientific diving – both being very expensive methods. A promising approach, however, is the use of artificial substrates - passive samplers that can record the community composition on the seafloor in a standardized way.
We offer biological monitoring with Autonomous Reef Monitoring Systems (ARMS), a method that has specifically been developed for studying hard bottom communities. ARMS are three-dimensional units consisting of stacked settlement plates attached to the sea floor. Because of their three-dimensional structure, mimicking the complexity of hard bottom marine substrates, they attract both sessile and motile benthic organisms. Our ARMS are typically deployed for a period between a few months up to one year and afterwards analysed photographically and genetically for their community composition. We offer equipment, protocols, and extensive reference data for monitoring benthic diversity in specific areas such as e.g., ports, marinas, marine protected areas, and wind parks.