Moving to 3D: relationships between coral planar area, surface area and volume

Jenny E. House, Viviana Brambilla, Luc M. Bidaut, Alec P. Christie, Oscar Pizarro, Joshua S. Madin, Maria Dornelas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Coral reefs are a valuable and vulnerable marine ecosystem. The structure of coral reefs influences their health and ability to fulfill ecosystem functions and services. However, monitoring reef corals largely relies on 1D or 2D estimates of coral cover and abundance that overlook change in ecologically significant aspects of the reefs because they do not incorporate vertical or volumetric information. This study explores the relationship between 2D and 3D metrics of coral size. We show that surface area and volume scale consistently with planar area, albeit with morphotype specific conversion parameters. We use a photogrammetric approach using open-source software to estimate the ability of photogrammetry to provide measurement estimates of corals in 3D. Technological developments have made photogrammetry a valid and practical technique for studying coral reefs. We anticipate that these techniques for moving coral research from 2D into 3D will facilitate answering ecological questions by incorporating the 3rd dimension into monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4280
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • coral reef
  • growth form
  • morphology
  • scaling
  • scleractinia

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