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Comparison of Mature Douglas-Firs’ Crown Structures Developed with Two Quantitative Structural Models Using TLS Point Clouds for Neighboring Trees in a Natural Regime Stand

College of Forestry, Oregon State University, 3100 Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
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Remote Sens. 2019, 11(14), 1661; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11141661
Received: 24 May 2019 / Revised: 1 July 2019 / Accepted: 10 July 2019 / Published: 12 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lidar for Ecosystem Science and Management)
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Abstract

The Douglas fir crown structure serves important ecological functions in regulating the ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Mapping and modeling of the Douglas-fir crown has traditionally focused on young plantations or old-growth forests. The crown description in natural regime forests is limited by data availability. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) enables the acquisition of crown structural attributes, even in dense forests, at a fine scale. The certical and horizontal distributions of the fine-scale branch attributes, such as branch diameter, branch length, and branch insertion angle, will reflect the crown behaviors towards light resources availability, as a result of neighborhood competition. The main objective of the study is to compare crown structural models of a group of neighboring trees developed with two TLS-based procedures, namely: semi-automatic (Cyclone software) and automatic (TreeQSM) procedures. The estimated crown attributes are the branch diameter, branch length, branch insertion angle, height of branch insertion point, and branch azimuth. The results show that branch azimuth distribution does not differ between TreeQSM and Cyclone for most of the sample trees. However, the TreeQSM and Cyclone identified branches exhibit different distributions of insertion height. A paired t-test indicates no difference between the mean branch diameter of Cyclone and TreeQSM at an individual tree level. However, Cyclone estimated that the branch length and branch insertion angle are 0.49 m and 9.9° greater than the TreeQSM estimates, respectively. Repeat measurements of the analysis of variance (ANOVA) suggest that the height along the stem is an influential factor of the difference between the Cyclone and TreeQSM branch diameter estimates. To test whether TLS-based estimates are within the ranges of the previous observations, we computed the tree crown attributes of second- and old-growth trees using Monte Carlo simulations for diameter at breast height (DBH) class 50–55 cm, 60–65 cm, and 85–105 cm. We found that the crown attributes estimated from both of the TLS-based methods are between the simulated second- and old-growth trees, except for DBH 85–105 cm. The TLS-based crown structural models show increasingly diverse distributions of branch insertion angles and increasing branch exclusion as DBH increases. Cyclone-based crown structural models are consistent with previous studies. However, TreeQSM-based crown structural models omitted a significant number of branches and generated crown structures with reduced plausibility. View Full-Text
Keywords: LiDAR; point clouds; TreeQSM; Cyclone software; crown structure; Douglas-fir; branch attributes; neighborhood; light resource availability LiDAR; point clouds; TreeQSM; Cyclone software; crown structure; Douglas-fir; branch attributes; neighborhood; light resource availability
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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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Fang, R.; Strimbu, B.M. Comparison of Mature Douglas-Firs’ Crown Structures Developed with Two Quantitative Structural Models Using TLS Point Clouds for Neighboring Trees in a Natural Regime Stand. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1661.

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