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Open AccessArticle

Weak Environmental Controls of Tropical Forest Canopy Height in the Guiana Shield

Cirad, UMR EcoFoG (AgroParisTech, CNRS, Inra, Université des Antilles, Université de la Guyane) , Kourou 97310, French Guiana
Université de la Guyane–UMR Espace–Dev, BP 792, Cayenne 97337, French Guiana
Office National des Forêts (ONF), Departement RD, Cayenne 97330, French Guiana
UMR Diade, Herbarium et Bibliothque de Botanique africaine, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels 1050, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sangram Ganguly, Compton Tucker, Nicolas Baghdadi, Randolph H. Wynne and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(9), 747;
Received: 1 July 2016 / Revised: 16 August 2016 / Accepted: 30 August 2016 / Published: 9 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Vegetation Structure and Dynamics)
Canopy height is a key variable in tropical forest functioning and for regional carbon inventories. We investigate the spatial structure of the canopy height of a tropical forest, its relationship with environmental physical covariates, and the implication for tropical forest height variation mapping. Making use of high-resolution maps of LiDAR-derived Digital Canopy Model (DCM) and environmental covariates from a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) acquired over 30,000 ha of tropical forest in French Guiana, we first show that forest canopy height is spatially correlated up to 2500 m. Forest canopy height is significantly associated with environmental variables, but the degree of correlation varies strongly with pixel resolution. On the whole, bottomland forests generally have lower canopy heights than hillslope or hilltop forests. However, this global picture is very noisy at local scale likely because of the endogenous gap-phase forest dynamic processes. Forest canopy height has been predictively mapped across a pixel resolution going from 6 m to 384 m mimicking a low resolution case of 3 points·km 2 . Results of canopy height mapping indicated that the error for spatial model with environment effects decrease from 8.7 m to 0.91 m, depending of the pixel resolution. Results suggest that, outside the calibration plots, the contribution of environment in shaping the global canopy height distribution is quite limited. This prevents accurate canopy height mapping based only on environmental information, and suggests that precise canopy height maps, for local management purposes, can only be obtained with direct LiDAR monitoring. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest structure; canopy height mapping; environmental covariates; airborne LiDAR; French Guiana forest structure; canopy height mapping; environmental covariates; airborne LiDAR; French Guiana
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MDPI and ACS Style

Goulamoussène, Y.; Bedeau, C.; Descroix, L.; Deblauwe, V.; Linguet, L.; Hérault, B. Weak Environmental Controls of Tropical Forest Canopy Height in the Guiana Shield. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 747.

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