A multidisciplinary approach to mapping, monitoring and modeling marine ecosystems


School of Life and Environmental Sciences | The University of Sydney |  Australia

renata.ferraril@gmail.com | 3D models repository



RenaI work to understand and conserve ecosystems into the future. I have a PhD in Spatial and Quantitative Marine Ecology from the University of Queensland (Supervised by Prof. Peter Mumby). My expertise in marine ecology and conservation developed from the urge to understand drivers of ecosystem change. This urge evolved into a multidisciplinary set of skills, spanning extensive fieldwork, 3D remote sensing and advanced statistical modeling.

My research combines field and laboratory data to predict ecosystem trajectories across space and time. For example, I use 3D maps to quantify the change in coral reef structure as a result of environmental change impacts. I use statistical modeling to predict the trajectory of coral reef structure in future environmental scenarios.

The tools and models I have developed inform management of marine and coastal ecosystems in several countries. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sydney, I work with the NSW government (OEH and DPI) to understand the dynamics of the marine habitats inside and outside of protected areas. The multidisciplinary nature of my research has allowed me to use emerging technologies, such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles.

My research is supported by The University of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Conservation Leadership Programme. Contact me at Renata Ferrari

Research & Innovation

I use a multidisciplinary approach to map, monitor and model marine ecosystems. For now this site focuses on my research around novel 3D technology, and has a little of information about other aspects of my research.

I strive to use the latest technology to solve every day challenges. For instance, I use innovative 3D technologies to reconstruct 3D maps of the marine ecosystems I study. 3D maps are very useful to quantify 3D metrics, like volume and habitat structural complexity. Below is an example of a 3D model of a Table coral from Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. I use many models like this one to measure the growth and erosion of coral colonies in the field.

3D model of table coral colony in Lizard Island lagoon – 3D models are large files please allow a couple of minutes for it to load after pressing play – once it is loaded you can use your mouse to move the 3D model (hold your left click mouse button to turn the model, hold your right click mouse button to pan, use your mouse scroll to zoom)

To find out more about my research and 3D models of marine ecosystems go here.




I have successfully supervised to compleition 2 MSc and one Honours students. I have also successfully supervised a team of 7 international MSc students and 15 BSc students. I am currently supervising one Honours, two MSc and one PhD student.

Lecturing and Invited Seminars

Despite holding a research only position since my PhD, I have designed and delivered many lectures at the graduate and post-graduate level across several Australian and international universities. Subjects include 3rd year Marine Biology, Experimental Design, Spatial data analyses with R and Tropical Ecology (2012 – 2017). These include both field and traditional lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals.

I have also developed curriculum for environmental science teacher training (years 1 – 12), undergraduate and postgraduate short courses and workshops.

Get involved

There are many ways to get involved in the 3D Reefs project, depending on your interests and skills.

I supervise internships for undergraduate and postgraduate students and have an open internship program for anyone that is keen to develop their skills in marine ecology and conservation.

I also supervise several Master and PhD students doing research projects that are closely related to 3D Reefs, both in Australia and overseas, mainly through The University of Sydney.

You can also support our research through the donations by clicking here.

If you are interested in our data and publications please click here.





3D Reefs was selected by the University of Sydney Inspire Campaign as their “In the field” category this year (2017) – if you want to support this research please click here and donate to the Coral Reef Research category. All funds will go directly towards the 3D Reefs project.



My research is supported by The University of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Conservation Leadership Programme.

In Australia have successfully collaborated with the Integrated Marine Observing System, the Australian Centre of Field Robotics, the Sydney Institute of Environment, the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences, The University of Queensland, the Global Change Institute, The University of New South Wales, the New South Wales Government, and the Marine Biodiversity Hub at the National Environmental Research/Science Programme, James Cook University, the University of Western Australia, the University of Tasmania, the University of Melbourne, and the Queensland University of Technology, among others.

Internationally, I also have on going collaborations with the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, the California State University of Northridge, the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Global team, the University of Cambridge and the Conservation Leadership Programme among others.

My research is also featured in several conservation networks, such as the Conservation Guide and the Society for Conservation Biology.


Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Group

Ecological 3D Modelling Hub

School of Life & Environmental Sciences | Room 147 | Edgeworth David Bld.
Science Road | University of Sydney | NSW
2006 | Australia
renata.ferrari@sydney.edu.au | twitter: @DrFerrari