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Three-dimensional morphometric measurements of reef corals using underwater photogrammetry techniques

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John BythellORCiD, Jong-Hyun Lee


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We describe a novel technical approach to accurately measure surface area and other morphological characteristics of corals and similar irregular objects from underwater photography. A standard Nikonos camera system was used with a slide-scanner to produce multiple overlapping images of the object. Photo-Modeler software was used to process the images and build a 3-D model of the object, which was subsequently analyzed using 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) packages. The accuracy of the technique was tested on irregularly shaped polystyrene models of known dimensions and on preserved coral skeletons. The technique was applied to the quantitative assessment of partial mortality in corals, but many applications are possible, including surface area measurements to standardize ecophysiological studies in the field and morphometric analyses. It represents the only noninvasive technique we are aware of for determining surface areas of large corals in the field. The most serious limitation of the technique is the time-consuming nature of the process, which increases with the complexity of the object and precludes many routine applications.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lee J; Bythell J; Pan P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Coral Reefs

Year: 2001

Volume: 20

Issue: 3

Pages: 193-199

Print publication date: 01/01/2001

ISSN (print): 0722-4028

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0975

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s003380100157


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