We have moved! Please visit us at ANTHROECOLOGY.ORG. This website is for archival purposes only.

We have moved! Please visit us at ANTHROECOLOGY.ORG. This website is for archival purposes only.


Ecosynth: 3D Tools for Ecology

3D point cloud of a forest on the UMBC campus (Dandois & Ellis 2010)
The Ecosynth project was completed September 30, 2018.

The Ecosynth Project
developed low-cost user-deployed open-source tools for scanning ecosystems in 3D from sets of digital photographs acquired using light-weight aerial platforms and from the ground.


Dandois, J. P., M. Baker, M. Olano, G. G. Parker, and E. C. Ellis. 2017. What is the point? Evaluating the structure, color, and semantic traits of computer vision point clouds of vegetation. Remote Sensing 9:355. [download]

Dandois, J.,M. Olano, and E.C. Ellis. 2015. Optimal Altitude, Overlap, and Weather Conditions for Computer Vision UAV Estimates of Forest Structure. Remote Sensing 7(10): 13895-13920. [download]

Dandois, J.P., D. Nadwodny, E. Anderson, A. Bofto, M. Baker, and E.C. Ellis. 2015. Forest census and map data for two temperate deciduous forest edge woodlot patches in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Ecology 96:1734-1734. [download] [download dataset]

Zahawi, R., J.P. Dandois, K.D. Holl, D. Nadwodny, L.J. Reid, and E.C. Ellis. 2015. Using lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor tropical forest recovery. Biological Conservation 186:287–295. [download]

Pirokka, M., E. C. Ellis, and P. D. Tredici. 2015. Personal Remote Sensing: Computer Vision Landscapes. Pages 178-187 in A. Fard and T. Meshkani, editors. New Geographies #7: Geographies of Information. Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA. [download]

Dandois, J. P. and E. C. Ellis. 2013. High spatial resolution three-dimensional mapping of vegetation spectral dynamics using computer vision. Remote Sensing of Environment 136:259-276. [download] [blog post]

Dandois, J. P. and E. C. Ellis. 2010. Remote sensing of vegetation structure using computer vision. Remote Sensing 2(4):1157-1176. [download]

The Ecosynth community website on Ning was a hub for collaborations for more than 350 early drone and computer vision ecologists from 2012 to 2018. The site closed in August 2019.

An interactive 3D forest viewer was developed.


Ecosynth developed the first high temporal resolution multispectral imaging of forest canopies in 3D.

Funders & Support
USDA USFS Shield    Baltimore Ecosystem Study   
This material was based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DBI 1147089 awarded March 1, 2012. Initial and continuing support provided by the USDA Forest Service joint venture agreement 06-JV-11242300-135. Graduate student support by NSF IGERT 054969 to UMBC CUERE, undergraduate student support from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study DEB-0423476. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Please contact Erle Ellis for more information.