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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(2), 1877-1896; doi:10.3390/rs70201877

Terrestrial Laser Scanning as an Effective Tool to Retrieve Tree Level Height, Crown Width, and Stem Diameter

LiDAR Applications for the Study of Ecosystems with Remote Sensing (LASERS) Laboratory, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A & M University, 1500 Research Parkway Suite B 217, College Station, TX 77843, USA
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Academic Editors: Lars T. Waser, Randolph H. Wynne and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 16 October 2014 / Revised: 6 January 2015 / Accepted: 19 January 2015 / Published: 9 February 2015
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Abstract

Accurate measures of forest structural parameters are essential to forest inventory and growth models, managing wildfires, and modeling of carbon cycle. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) fills the gap between tree scale manual measurements and large scale airborne LiDAR measurements by providing accurate below crown information through non-destructive methods. This study developed innovative methods to extract individual tree height, diameter at breast height (DBH), and crown width of trees in East Texas. Further, the influence of scan settings, such as leaf-on/leaf-off seasons, tree distance from the scanner, and processing choices, on the accuracy of deriving tree measurements were also investigated. DBH was retrieved by cylinder fitting at different height bins. Individual trees were extracted from the TLS point cloud to determine tree heights and crown widths. The R-squared value ranged from 0.91 to 0.97 when field measured DBH was validated against TLS derived DBH using different methods. An accuracy of 92% (RMSE = 1.51 m) was obtained for predicting tree heights. The R-squared value was 0.84 and RMSE was 1.08 m when TLS derived crown widths were validated using field measured crown widths. Examples of underestimations of field measured forest structural parameters due to tree shadowing have also been discussed in this study. The results from this study will benefit foresters and remote sensing studies from airborne and spaceborne platforms, for map upscaling or calibration purposes, for aboveground biomass estimation, and prudent decision making by the forest management. View Full-Text
Keywords: TLS; forestry; retrieval; estimation; parameters TLS; forestry; retrieval; estimation; parameters
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Srinivasan, S.; Popescu, S.C.; Eriksson, M.; Sheridan, R.D.; Ku, N.-W. Terrestrial Laser Scanning as an Effective Tool to Retrieve Tree Level Height, Crown Width, and Stem Diameter. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 1877-1896.

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