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- PublicationEnd to End Digitisation and Analysis of Three-Dimensional Coral Models, from Communities to CorallitesCoral reefs hosts nearly 25% of all marine species and provide food sources for half a billion people worldwide while only a very small percentage have been surveyed. Advances in technology and processing along with affordable underwater cameras and Internet availability gives us the possibility to provide tools and softwares to survey entire coral reefs. Holistic ecological analyses of corals require not only the community view (10s to 100s of meters), but also the single colony analysis as well as corallite identification. As corals are three-dimensional, classical approaches to determine percent cover and structural complexity across spatial scales are inefficient, time-consuming and limited to experts. Here we propose an end-to-end approach to estimate these parameters using low-cost equipment (GoPro, Canon) and freeware (123D Catch, Meshmixer and Netfabb), allowing every community to participate in surveys and monitoring of their coral ecosystem.We demonstrate our approach on 9 species of underwater colonies in ranging size and morphology. 3D models of underwater colonies, fresh samples and bleached skeletons with high quality texture mapping and detailed topographic morphology were produced, and Surface Area and Volume measurements (parameters widely used for ecological and coral health studies) were calculated and analysed. Moreover, we integrated collected sample models with micro-photogrammetry models of individual corallites to aid identification and colony and polyp scale analysis.
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