Image by John Burns

3D Modeling of Coral Reefs

The structural complexity of coral reefs plays a major role in the biodiversity, productivity, and overall functionality of reef ecosystems. Conventional metrics with 2-dimensional properties are inadequate for characterization of reef structural complexity. A 3-dimensional (3D) approach can quantify topography, rugosity and other structural characteristics that play an important role in the ecology of coral reef communities. We utilize SfM technology to create high-resolution 3D models of coral reefs, and then measure 3D complexity in order to determine how the reef architecture affects reef organisms such as invertebrates and fish.

The 3D reconstruction of reef structure and complexity can be integrated with other physiological and ecological parameters to improve monitoring of the health and function of coral reef ecosystems.