Spatial Methods for Quantifying Forest Stand Structure Development: A Comparison Between Nearest-Neighbor Indices and Variogram Analysis

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Abstract:



Insight into forest stand structure is of capital importance for understanding forest ecosystem structure and function. The ability of two spatial methods—based on (1) nearest-neighbor indices and (2) geostatistical variogram analysis—to quantify forest stand structure and its development over short time periods was investigated in two mixed Scots pine stands. Results show that the two methods are complementary in quantifying the three components of forest stand structure: positioning, mixture, and differentiation. The principal advantage of nearest-neighbor indices was their capacity for detecting subtle structure changes; moreover, they are easy to calculate and interpret. Variograms of height and indicator variograms of presence/absence data were more complicated in their use and required more input data, but provided additional information on the number, impact, and range of structure-determining factors such as competition and management. In this context, the concept of the mark variograms is discussed. FOR. SCI. 49(1):36–49.

Keywords: Belgium; Pinus sylvestris; Spatial analysis; autocorrelation; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; mark variogram; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Forestry, Ghent University, Geraardsbergsesteenweg 267, B-9090 Melle-Gontrode, Belgium, Phone: +32 9 264 90 26; Fax: +32 3 264 30 32 Vincent.Kint@rug.ac.be 2: Dept. of Soil Management and Soil Care, Ghent University, Marc.Vanmeirvenne@rug.ac.be 3: Laboratory of Forestry, Ghent University, Lieven.Nachtergale@rug.ac.be 4: Laboratory of Forestry, Ghent University, Guy.Geudens@rug.ac.be 5: Laboratory of Forestry, Ghent University, Noel.Lust@rug.ac.be

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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