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Tree Location Measurement Accuracy with a Mapping-Grade GPS Receiver under Forest Canopy

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We evaluated the accuracy of mapping-grade global positioning system (GPS) receivers in determining tree locations within two temperate conifer forest stands representing moderate and extreme terrain slope conditions. The GPS receiver measurement accuracy assessment focused on autonomous GPS measurements, postprocessing of code satellite signals, and postprocessing of both carrier and coarse acquisition (C/A) code-based signals. The locations of 337 trees within the two stands were measured using a digital total station and a mapping-grade GPS receiver equipped with an external antenna. Average GPS receiver tree position horizontal error was least for the C/A code only differential corrections of tree positions (2.57 and 2.70 m in the two plots), higher for autonomous measurements (2.86 and 3.28 m), and greatest for differential corrections that used both carrier and C/A code signals (2.94 and 3.46 m). The code only differential corrections for tree locations were significantly statistically different or nearly significantly different from the autonomous measurements as well as the carrier and C/A code corrections. On the basis of these results, it appears that postprocessing of coded pseudorange satellite signals is the most accurate and recommended method among those that we tested for mapping-grade GPS surveying of tree locations under a conifer-dominant forest canopy.

Keywords: GPS; accuracy; forest; measurements; trees

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-12-02

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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