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Field Note—Comparison of Three Dendrometers in Measuring Diameter at Breast Height Field Note

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Three dendrometers—d-tape, calipers, and Biltmore stick—were used to measure diameter at breast height (dbh), and discrepancies that occurred among these instruments were compared. Three methods of dbh estimation with calipers—the quadratic, arithmetic, and geometric mean of the major and minor axis diameter—were compared. Trees were grouped into four broad dbh classes of 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, and 16–20 in. and three species—northern red oak, sugar maple, and white ash—to determine the effect of tree size and species on discrepancies. The d-tape consistently recorded a larger dbh than the three caliper methods, but was not statistically different nor practically important. The differences in recorded dbh between the d-tape and calipers increased with tree size and were similar among northern red oak and sugar maple trees, but dbh differences in white ash trees were significantly less than in the other two species. The Biltmore stick's accuracy in classifying trees into the same dbh class as determined by the d-tape decreased as tree size increased. When examined by species, the Biltmore stick was less accurate in this regard with northern red oak and most accurate with sugar maple. Because the geometric principle of the d-tape assumes a tree to have a circular shape, its diameter estimation and subsequent basal area will usually be greater than the true diameter and area. The use of calipers reduces this bias, but the differences are not statistically significant.
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Keywords: Biltmore stick; Calipers; d-tape; dbh measurement

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Columbus Wood Products, 1165 Kinnear Road, Columbus, OH, 43212-1162 2: School of Natural Resources, 210 Kottman Hall, The Ohio State University, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1085

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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