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Tree Size Distribution Functions of Four Boreal Forest Types for Biomass Mapping

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To accurately map forest biomass, which is essential for many socioeconomic and environmental studies, reliable information of tree size distribution within a stand is needed. Using measurements at 87 stands of trembling aspen (Populous tremuloides Michx.), jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.), black spruce (Picea mariana [Mill.] BSP.), and mixed forests along a 1,000-km boreal forest transect in western Canada, we investigated three methods for estimating tree size distribution: parameter prediction method for diameter-frequency distribution (PPM-Nk /N), PPM for diameter-basal area distribution (PPM-Bk /B), and parameter recovery method for diameter-frequency distribution (PRM). For diameter-frequency distribution estimation, the PPM-Nk /N and the PRM were more accurate than PPM-Bk /B. For biomass estimation, the PPM-Bk /B and the PRM were found to have mean estimation errors <3% and root mean square errors <10%, relative to the “true” values given by summation overall trees, but the PPM-Nk /N didn't perform as well. Three distribution functions (i.e., the Weibull, the Johnson's SB, and the lognormal) were used for each method but were found to make little difference in method performance. An additional test indicated that the PPM-Bk /B and the PRM performed equally well for a balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.] Mill) stand in eastern Canada. FOR. SCI. 50(4):436–449.
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Keywords: Tree size distribution; biomass mapping; boreal forest; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; parameter prediction method; parameter recovery method

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Research Scientist Applications Division Canada Centre for Remote Sensing 588 Booth Street Ottawa ON Canada K1A 0Y7 Phone: (613) 947-1286;, Fax: (613) 947-1383, Email:

Publication date: 2004-08-01

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.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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