Skip to main content

Terrain Shape Index: Quantifying Effect of Minor Landforms on Tree Height

Buy Article:

$29.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)


In the southern Appalachians, the distribution and growth of trees are highly correlated with local topography, but the relationships have been difficult to describe quantitatively. A quantitative expression of the geometric shape of the land surface (terrain shape index) is described and correlated with overstory tree heights and site quality. Application of the index in three even-aged stands of yellow-popular (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) on high-quality uniform sites shows that it is highly correlated with total height of trees in a stand, with r² ranging from 0.45 to 0.74. In comparisons among stands, the index accounted for an average of 51% of the variation in site index. The relationship was validated in two supplementary stands and accounted for about 49% of variation in site index. The terrain shape index was more accurate in predicting tree height than was lateral shape class, a subjective measure of slope shape occasionally used in soil-site studies. For. Sci. 35(1):91-104.

Keywords: Liriodendron tulipifera; Site quality; height growth; site index

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Silviculturist, USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Asheville, N.C. 28804

Publication date: March 1, 1989

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
  • Submit a Paper
  • Membership Information
  • Author Guidelines
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more