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Non-parametric prediction of diameter distributions using airborne laser scanner data

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The aim of this study was to apply the non-parametric k-most similar neighbour (MSN) method and airborne laser scanner data to predict stand diameter distributions in a 960 km2 forest district in south-eastern Norway. The specific objectives of the study were (1) to examine the use of different dependent and independent variables in the canonical correlation analysis of MSN, and (2) to examine the influence of reduced number of training data plots by means of simulations. The reliability of the constructed diameter distributions was analysed using error indices and the accuracy of stand attributes derived from predicted diameter distributions. The study material included a total of 201 plots and they were reduced to 181, 161, … , 41 plots in the simulations. The results indicated that when selecting dependent variables in the canonical correlation analysis it is sufficient to have variables reflecting stand means and aggregated variables (sums) to obtain accurate predictions of diameter distributions. Furthermore, the prediction models should not to be too detailed, i.e. they should not include a great number of independent variables since cross-validation always tends to give too optimistic results. Validation on independent data will often show considerably poorer reliability figures. Finally, the results indicated that even such a low number of training plots as about 100 can produce accurate enough predictions of stand attributes and diameter distributions.

Keywords: Airborne laser scanning; diameter distribution; k-MSN; training data; validation data

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway 2: Faculty of Forest Sciences, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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