Retrieval of forest biophysical properties using airborne LiDAR is known to differ between leaf-on and leaf-off states of deciduous trees, but much less is understood about the within-season effects of leafing phenology. Here, we compare two LiDAR surveys separated by just six weeks in spring, in order to assess whether LiDAR variables were influenced by canopy changes in Mediterranean mixed-oak woodlands at this time of year. Maximum and, to a slightly lesser extent, mean heights were consistently measured, whether for the evergreen cork oak (Quercus suber
) or semi-deciduous Algerian oak (Q. canariensis
) woodlands. Estimates of the standard deviation and skewness of height differed more strongly, especially for Algerian oaks which experienced considerable leaf expansion in the time period covered. Our demonstration of which variables are more or less affected by spring-time leafing phenology has important implications for analyses of both canopy and sub-canopy vegetation layers from LiDAR surveys.
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