Assessment of storm impact on coral reef structural complexity

Matan Yuval, Naama Pearl, Dan Tchernov, Stephane Martinez, Yossi Loya, Avi Bar-Massada, Tali Treibitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and magnitude. Consequently, it is important to understand their effects and remediation. Resilience reflects the ability of an ecosystem to absorb change, which is important for understanding ecological dynamics and trajectories. To describe the impact of a powerful storm on coral reef structural complexity, we used novel computational tools and detailed 3D reconstructions captured at three time points over three years. Our data-set Reefs4D of 21 co-registered image-based models enabled us to calculate the differences at seven sites over time and is released with the paper. We employed six geometrical metrics, two of which are new algorithms for calculating fractal dimension of reefs in full 3D. We conducted a multivariate analysis to reveal which sites were affected the most and their relative recovery. We also explored the changes in fractal dimension per size category using our cube-counting algorithm. Three metrics showed a significant difference between time points, i.e., decline and subsequent recovery in structural complexity. The multivariate analysis and the results per size category showed a similar trend. Coral reef resilience has been the subject of seminal studies in ecology. We add important information to the discussion by focusing on 3D structure through image-based modeling. The full picture shows resilience in structural complexity, suggesting that the reef has not gone through a catastrophic phase shift. Our novel analysis framework is widely transferable and useful for research, monitoring, and management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164493
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • 3D change detection
  • Coral-reefs
  • Extreme weather events
  • Fractal dimension
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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