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Light Detection and Ranging-Based Measures of Mixed Hardwood Forest Structure

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Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is increasingly used to map terrain and vegetation. Data collection is expensive, but costs are reduced when multiple products are derived from each mission. We examined how well low-density leaf-off LiDAR, originally flown for terrain mapping, quantified hardwood forest structure. We measured tree density, dbh, basal area, mean tree height, Lorey's mean tree height, and sawtimber and pulpwood volume at 114 field plots. Using univariate and multivariate linear regression models, we related field data to LiDAR return heights. We compared models using all LiDAR returns and only first returns. First-return univariate models explained more variability than all-return models; however, the differences were small for multivariate models. Multiple regression models had R2 values of 65% for sawtimber and pulpwood volume, 63% for Lorey's mean tree height, 55% for mean tree height, 48% for mean dbh, 46% for basal area, and 13% for tree density. However, the standard error of the mean for predictions ranged between 1 and 4%, and this level of error is well within levels needed for broad-scale forest assessments. Our results suggest that low-density LiDAR intended for terrain mapping is valuable for broad-scale hardwood forest inventories.

Keywords: Wisconsin; forest inventory; pulpwood; sawtimber; timber volume

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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