Needs and Gaps in Optical Underwater Technologies and Methods for the Investigation of Marine Animal Forest 3D-Structural Complexity

Paolo Rossi, Massimo Ponti, Sara Righi, Cristina Castagnetti, Roberto Simonini, Francesco Mancini, Panagiotis Agrafiotis, Leonardo Bassani, Fabio Bruno, Carlo Cerrano, Paolo Cignoni, Massimiliano Corsini, Pierre Drap, Marco Dubbini, Joaquim Garrabou, Andrea Gori, Nuno Gracias, Jean Baptiste Ledoux, Cristina Linares, Torcuato Pulido MantasFabio Menna, Erica Nocerino, Marco Palma, Gaia Pavoni, Alessandro Ridolfi, Sergio Rossi, Dimitrios Skarlatos, Tali Treibitz, Eva Turicchia, Matan Yuval, Alessandro Capra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine animal forests are benthic communities dominated by sessile suspension feeders (such as sponges, corals, and bivalves) able to generate three-dimensional (3D) frameworks with high structural complexity. The biodiversity and functioning of marine animal forests are strictly related to their 3D complexity. The present paper aims at providing new perspectives in underwater optical surveys. Starting from the current gaps in data collection and analysis that critically limit the study and conservation of marine animal forests, we discuss the main technological and methodological needs for the investigation of their 3D structural complexity at different spatial and temporal scales. Despite recent technological advances, it seems that several issues in data acquisition and processing need to be solved, to properly map the different benthic habitats in which marine animal forests are present, their health status and to measure structural complexity. Proper precision and accuracy should be chosen and assured in relation to the biological and ecological processes investigated. Besides, standardized methods and protocols are strictly necessary to meet the FAIR (findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability) data principles for the stewardship of habitat mapping and biodiversity, biomass, and growth data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number591292
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - 5 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Rossi, Ponti, Righi, Castagnetti, Simonini, Mancini, Agrafiotis, Bassani, Bruno, Cerrano, Cignoni, Corsini, Drap, Dubbini, Garrabou, Gori, Gracias, Ledoux, Linares, Mantas, Menna, Nocerino, Palma, Pavoni, Ridolfi, Rossi, Skarlatos, Treibitz, Turicchia, Yuval and Capra.


  • 3D monitoring
  • biodiversity
  • biogenic reefs conservation
  • semantic segmentation
  • underwater photogrammetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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