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A social network for 3-D ecology

NSF Award:

ABI Development: Ecosynth: An Advanced Open-Source 3D Toolkit for Forest Ecology  (University of Maryland Baltimore County)

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Ecosynth, a suite of tools for mapping and measuring vegetation in 3-D, is an easily accessible research repository and social network available for scientists and non-scientists alike. Ecosynth is the result of successful integration of ecological research, advanced 3-D imaging technology and commercially available equipment.

The tools enable individual researchers and citizen scientists to create low-cost, portable 3-D observation systems and deploy them using readily available hardware across a broad range of sampling areas from remote locations to local neighborhoods. Ecosynth generates spectral imaging data useful for ecological research and other applications. The Ecosynth community welcomes researchers and citizen scientists.  

Three-dimensional scanning technology can capture complex structures on macroscopic scales and is transforming ecological science. While this approach capitalizes on data volumes generated by modern remote sensing and increases citizen participation in science, the equipment's complexity limits its use to specialists with training and adequate research budgets.

To overcome this limitation, Erle Ellis, Marc Olano and their team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County developed a system that incorporates off-the-shelf equipment, open-source software, hobbyist aircraft, highly trained ecologists and citizen scientists to develop a broader application of the technology as well as greater understanding of the world around us.

Watch a video of Ecosynth research and activities.

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Images (1 of )

  • a hexacopter flying in costa rica
  • a simulation of a forest at the smithsonian environmental research center
  • the ecosynth web browser available to citizen scientists
A hexacopter flying in Costa Rica.
Erle Ellis and Marc Olano, UMBC
Simulation of a forest at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Erle Ellis and Marc Olano, UMBC
The Ecosynth web browser.
Erle Ellis and Marc Olano, UMBC

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