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Characterization of Canopy Layering in Forested Ecosystems Using Full Waveform Lidar

Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, 2181 Samuel J. LeFrak Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Laser Remote Sensing Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2013, 5(4), 2014-2036;
Received: 20 February 2013 / Revised: 12 April 2013 / Accepted: 12 April 2013 / Published: 22 April 2013
PDF [1638 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


Canopy structure, the vertical distribution of canopy material, is an important element of forest ecosystem dynamics and habitat preference. Although vertical stratification, or “canopy layering,” is a basic characterization of canopy structure for research and forest management, it is difficult to quantify at landscape scales. In this paper we describe canopy structure and develop methodologies to map forest vertical stratification in a mixed temperate forest using full-waveform lidar. Two definitions—one categorical and one continuous—are used to map canopy layering over Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire with lidar data collected in 2009 by NASA’s Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor (LVIS). The two resulting canopy layering datasets describe variation of canopy layering throughout the forest and show that layering varies with terrain elevation and canopy height. This information should provide increased understanding of vertical structure variability and aid habitat characterization and other forest management activities. View Full-Text
Keywords: lidar; vertical structure; canopy layering; New Hampshire lidar; vertical structure; canopy layering; New Hampshire
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Whitehurst, A.S.; Swatantran, A.; Blair, J.B.; Hofton, M.A.; Dubayah, R. Characterization of Canopy Layering in Forested Ecosystems Using Full Waveform Lidar. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 2014-2036.

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