Having fun while doing research… or doing research while having fun?!?!?
The new frontiers of technology are starting paying dividends for me as well, finally. I’m talking about 3D modelling. A couple of months ago I finalize my morphological analysis on Cystophora species (I’ll be talking about them in another article) mainly aimed to test the hypothesis that a different morphology can be a good driver for clients (abundance, biodiversity, ecc). Scientific literature has already reported how biogenic architecture can be extremely relevant for invertebrates in intertidal and subtidal marine communities and many ways have been found to study, quantifying and comparing the tridimensionality of key-stone or common species.
My research in this field started with high-quality pictures and since I’m very keen in graphics… well, I ended up with looking for informations about 3d modelling.
During my studies in experimental ecology, I’ve used (and I’m currently using) lot of different materials with different shape and size in order to emulate habitat-formers and epiphytes, for morphological reasons and ecological processes.
Here is when 3D modelling can help research in testing how several variables are affected by some specific factors.
That’s a good chance to mention a free software (with additional feature through payment): Autodesk Memento, with the new version Autodesk Remake, is an excellent software able to manage with a series of pictures or scans from laser or 3D scanners and output a tridimensional model.
Obviously I’ve already tried it (how to resist?!?!) with a Canon Powershot G15, collecting a series of sequential 360 degrees pictures at different height with the right light and background. Creating a 3D model can be really easier than the expected if you do it in the right way.
Here are a couple of models I’ve created some months ago. The mussel was kind of 15 cm while the cockle was more and less 2-2.5 cm long.
They are definitely incredibly accurate (note all the epibionts living in the mussel) and the resolution is excellent (thanks the camera) allowing in some case really complex analysis.
Their use is mainly addressed to test the role of this organisms in their habitat, defining the consequences of replacing them with mimics or modifying some factors strictly related with their ecology or morphology (temperature, color, rugosity, etc).
What next? Well, I’ll post something…