Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) is a state of the art technology to assess forest aboveground biomass (AGB). To date, methods developed to relate Lidar metrics with forest parameters were built upon the vertical component of the data. In multi-layered tropical forests, signal penetration might be restricted, limiting the efficiency of these methods. A potential way for improving AGB models in such forests would be to combine traditional approaches by descriptors of the horizontal canopy structure. We assessed the capability and complementarity of three recently proposed methods for assessing AGB at the plot level using point distributional approach (DM), canopy volume profile approach (CVP), 2D canopy grain approach (FOTO), and further evaluated the potential of a topographical complexity index (TCI) to explain part of the variability of AGB with slope. This research has been conducted in a mountainous wet evergreen tropical forest of Western Ghats in India. AGB biomass models were developed using a best subset regression approach, and model performance was assessed through cross-validation. Results demonstrated that the variability in AGB could be efficiently captured when variables describing both the vertical (DM or CVP) and horizontal (FOTO) structure were combined. Integrating FOTO metrics with those of either DM or CVP decreased the root mean squared error of the models by 4.42% and 6.01%, respectively. These results are of high interest for AGB mapping in the tropics and could significantly contribute to the REDD+ program. Model quality could be further enhanced by improving the robustness of field-based biomass models and influence of topography on area-based Lidar descriptors of the forest structure.
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