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Evaluation of four methods for estimating leaf area of isolated trees

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The accurate modeling of the physiological and functional processes of urban forests requires information on the leaf area of urban tree species. Several non-destructive, indirect leaf area sampling methods have shown good performance for homogenous canopies. These methods have not been evaluated for use in urban settings where trees are typically isolated and measurement may be complicated by proximity to residential areas, buildings, signs, and other infrastructure elements. We evaluated the accuracy, precision, efficiency and other practical considerations associated with four methods of estimating the leaf area of open-grown deciduous trees in urban forests. The methods included color digital image processing (CD), the LAI-2000 Plant Canopy Analyzer, the CI-100 Digital Plant Canopy Imager, and a logarithmic regression equation. Regression coefficients, adjusted R2, and confidence intervals were used to determine the best method when using true leaf area of 25 Platanus x acerifolia Willd. and 25 Platanus racemosa Nutt. as an independent variable. Practical considerations included ease of data collection and processing and costs associated with each method. The CD method and LAI-2000 estimates showed good correlation with true leaf area (R2 > 0.71); however, only the CD method produced estimates within 25 percent of mean true leaf area and met additional requirements for accuracy, precision, and efficient use in urban settings.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, USA

Publication date: 2003-06-01

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