Hi Jason.

If habitats within sites and belts within habitats can be assumed indepent, my first thought would be to conduct a glm with Poisson errors. But I'm not sure, you have given too little information.

What is the protocol for including seastar's; only when they are on the belt - or is the belt the central location for distance sampling?

Anyway a Poisson glm is more appropriate for count data, but I am assuming you are conducting repeated sampling over time? How many repeat visits are there?

If you provide more information, we will be in a better position to help. Maybe even our resident aquatic ecologist, bugman, will respond?

Cheers,

TE