Coral Reefs

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 109–117 | Cite as

Coral surface area quantification–evaluation of established techniques by comparison with computer tomography

  • M. S. NaumannEmail author
  • W. Niggl
  • C. Laforsch
  • C. Glaser
  • C. Wild


The surface area of scleractinian corals represents an important reference parameter required for various aspects of coral reef science. However, with advancements in detection accuracy and novel approaches for coral surface area quantification, evaluation of established techniques in comparison with state-of-the-art technology gains importance to coral researchers. This study presents an evaluation of methodological accuracy for established techniques in comparison to a novel approach composed of computer tomography (CT) and 3-dimensional surface reconstruction. The skeleton surface area of reef corals from six genera representing the most common morphological growth forms was acquired by CT and subsequently measured by computer-aided 3-dimensional surface reconstruction. Surface area estimates for the same corals were also obtained by application of four established techniques: Simple and Advanced Geometry, Wax Coating and Planar Projection Photography. Comparison of the resulting area values revealed significant differences between the majority (82%) of established techniques and the CT reference. Genus-specific analysis assigned the highest accuracy to geometric approximations (Simple or Advanced Geometry) for the majority of assessed coral genera (maximum accuracy: 104%; Simple Geometry with Montipora sp.). The commonly used and invasive Wax Coating technique reached intermediate accuracy (47–74%) for the majority of genera, but performed outstanding in the measurement of branching Acropora spp. corals (maximum accuracy: 101%), while the Planar Projection Photography delivered genera-wide low accuracy (12–36%). Comparison of area values derived from established techniques and CT additionally yielded approximation factors (AFs) applicable as factors in the mathematical improvement of surface area estimates by established techniques in relation to CT reference accuracy.


Coral Surface area Methods Evaluation Computer tomography 



E. Christoph of the Department for Clinical Radiology (University Hospital of Munich) and V. Witt, are acknowledged for their technical support of this work. L. Colgan and C. Williamson contributed to improve this article. We thank the editor Dr. Bernhard Riegl and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. The German Research Foundation (DFG) with grant Wi 2677/2-1 to C.W. funded this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Naumann
    • 1
    Email author
  • W. Niggl
    • 1
  • C. Laforsch
    • 2
  • C. Glaser
    • 3
  • C. Wild
    • 1
  1. 1.Coral Reef Ecology Work Group (CORE), GeoBio-Center and Department of Earth and Environmental ScienceLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department Biology II and GeoBio-CenterLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMartinsriedGermany
  3. 3.Department for Clinical Radiology, University Hospital of MunichLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMunichGermany

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