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Title: Predicting live and dead tree basal area of bark beetle affected forests from discrete-return lidar

Author: Bright, Benjamin C.; Hudak, Andrew T.; McGaughey, Robert; Andersen, Hans-Erik; Negron, Jose;

Date: 2013

Source: Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 39(S1): S99-S111.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Bark beetle outbreaks have killed large numbers of trees across North America in recent years. Lidar remote sensing can be used to effectively estimate forest biomass, but prediction of both live and dead standing biomass in beetle-affected forests using lidar alone has not been demonstrated. We developed Random Forest (RF) models predicting total, live, dead, and percent dead basal area (BA) from lidar metrics in five different beetle-affected coniferous forests across western North America. Study areas included the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, southeastern Arizona, north-central Colorado, central Idaho, and central Oregon, U.S.A. We created RF models with and without intensity metrics as predictor variables and investigated how intensity normalization affected RF models in Idaho. RF models predicting total BA explained the most variation, whereas RF models predicting dead BA explained the least variation, with live and percent dead BA models explaining intermediate levels of variation. Important metrics varied between models depending on the type of BA being predicted. Generally, height and density metrics were important in predicting total BA, intensity and density metrics were important in predicting live BA, and intensity metrics were important in predicting dead and percent dead BA. Several lidar metrics were important across all study areas. Whether needles were on or off beetle-killed trees at the time of lidar acquisition could not be ascertained. Future work, where needle conditions at the time of lidar acquisition are known, could improve upon our analysis and results. Although RF models predicting live, dead, and percent dead BA did not perform as well as models predicting total BA, we concluded that discrete-return lidar can be used to provide reasonable estimations of live and dead BA. Our results also showed which lidar metrics have general utility across different coniferous forest types.

Keywords: bark beetle, lidar remote sensing, dead basal area (BA), Random Forest (RF) models

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Bright, Benjamin C.; Hudak, Andrew T.; McGaughey, Robert; Andersen, Hans-Erik; Negron, Jose. 2013. Predicting live and dead tree basal area of bark beetle affected forests from discrete-return lidar. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 39(S1): S99-S111.

 


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