Standardizing Protocols for Accurate 3D Digitization of Arthropods.

April 13, 2023

The OHIO Museum Complex Crane Hollow collection at Ohio University houses a total of 120,000 specimens of flora and fauna collected from a small area of fewer than 2,000 acres in Hocking County, Ohio. Arthropods, especially insects, comprise a significant portion of the collection. Access to scientific collections like that of the Kennedy Museum can sometimes be limited for various reasons. Globally-speaking, several collections rest in large museums in major cities worldwide. Some of these collections can only offer limited access to the specimens due to the specimen’s rarity or importance. Also, scientific collections are not accessible to the general public, reducing their practical value.

In response to the limited access to museum collections, emerging technologies are proving to play a potential role in allowing scientists and the general public alike to learn more about these elusive specimens. Photogrammetry, the process of capturing photographs to create accurate 3D models of real-world objects or environments, has become a versatile tool with applications in engineering, land surveying, real estate, and other fields. It provides high levels of precision and accuracy in measurements at a relatively low cost. Researchers like Irschick (2019), Ströbel et al. (2018), and Plum & Labonte (2021) have used photogrammetry to create 3D models of different taxa. Plum & Labonte specifically developed “scAnt,” an open-source platform and software that automates specimen image acquisition using generic hardware components.

The first model was created with the first iteration of the photo masking protocol, and the second model was created with the actual protocol using Lightroom Classic. This protocol is used for traditional photogrammetry using a commercial camera.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Standardize a methodology for image acquisition of specimens in the Crane Hollow collection to create 3D models.
  • Adapt the scAnt platform (Plum & Labonte 2021) to the specific needs of the Crane Hollow collection.
  • Use the specimen models to create immersive virtual reality experiences that engage users and allow them to learn about these creatures interactively.
  • Provide valuable insights into the morphometric information of the specimens in the collection through accurate 3D models for scientific research.

In accomplishing these goals, the project aims to create an accessible virtual collection that can encourage meaningful change in society by providing expanded access to educational resources in the face of pressing environmental concerns such as species extinction and population decline.


  • Ströbel, B., Schmelzle, S., Blüthgen, N., & Heethoff, M. (2018). An automated device for the digitization and 3modelingng of insects, combining extended-depth-of-field and all-side multi-view imaging. ZooKeys, 2018(759), 1–27.
  • Irschick, D. J. (2019). Using 3D Photogrammetry to Create Open-Access Models of Live Animals: 2D and 3D Software Solutions. In 3D/CR in the Academic Library: Emerging practices and trends (pp. 57–72). Council on Library and Information Resources.
  • Plum, F., & Labonte, D. (2021). scAnt — An open-source platform for the creation of 3D models of arthropods (and other small objects). PeerJ, 9, e11155.
  • Crane Hollow All Taxa Biodiversity Index | Ohio University. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2023, from


5 + 4 =