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Pan-tropical prediction of forest structure from the largest trees


Bastin, Jean-François; Rutishauser, Ervan; et al; Kessler, Michael; Saner, Philippe (2018). Pan-tropical prediction of forest structure from the largest trees. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27(11):1366-1383.

Abstract

Aim Large tropical trees form the interface between ground and airborne observations, offering a unique opportunity to capture forest properties remotely and to investigate their variations on broad scales. However, despite rapid development of metrics to characterize the forest canopy from remotely sensed data, a gap remains between aerial and field inventories. To close this gap, we propose a new pan‐tropical model to predict plot‐level forest structure properties and biomass from only the largest trees. Location Pan‐tropical. Time period Early 21st century. Major taxa studied Woody plants. Methods Using a dataset of 867 plots distributed among 118 sites across the tropics, we tested the prediction of the quadratic mean diameter, basal area, Lorey's height, community wood density and aboveground biomass (AGB) from the ith largest trees. Results Measuring the largest trees in tropical forests enables unbiased predictions of plot‐ and site‐level forest structure. The 20 largest trees per hectare predicted quadratic mean diameter, basal area, Lorey's height, community wood density and AGB with 12, 16, 4, 4 and 17.7% of relative error, respectively. Most of the remaining error in biomass prediction is driven by differences in the proportion of total biomass held in medium‐sized trees (50–70 cm diameter at breast height), which shows some continental dependency, with American tropical forests presenting the highest proportion of total biomass in these intermediate‐diameter classes relative to other continents. Main conclusions Our approach provides new information on tropical forest structure and can be used to generate accurate field estimates of tropical forest carbon stocks to support the calibration and validation of current and forthcoming space missions. It will reduce the cost of field inventories and contribute to scientific understanding of tropical forest ecosystems and response to climate change.

Abstract

Aim Large tropical trees form the interface between ground and airborne observations, offering a unique opportunity to capture forest properties remotely and to investigate their variations on broad scales. However, despite rapid development of metrics to characterize the forest canopy from remotely sensed data, a gap remains between aerial and field inventories. To close this gap, we propose a new pan‐tropical model to predict plot‐level forest structure properties and biomass from only the largest trees. Location Pan‐tropical. Time period Early 21st century. Major taxa studied Woody plants. Methods Using a dataset of 867 plots distributed among 118 sites across the tropics, we tested the prediction of the quadratic mean diameter, basal area, Lorey's height, community wood density and aboveground biomass (AGB) from the ith largest trees. Results Measuring the largest trees in tropical forests enables unbiased predictions of plot‐ and site‐level forest structure. The 20 largest trees per hectare predicted quadratic mean diameter, basal area, Lorey's height, community wood density and AGB with 12, 16, 4, 4 and 17.7% of relative error, respectively. Most of the remaining error in biomass prediction is driven by differences in the proportion of total biomass held in medium‐sized trees (50–70 cm diameter at breast height), which shows some continental dependency, with American tropical forests presenting the highest proportion of total biomass in these intermediate‐diameter classes relative to other continents. Main conclusions Our approach provides new information on tropical forest structure and can be used to generate accurate field estimates of tropical forest carbon stocks to support the calibration and validation of current and forthcoming space missions. It will reduce the cost of field inventories and contribute to scientific understanding of tropical forest ecosystems and response to climate change.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ecology, Global and Planetary Change, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 November 2018
Deposited On:25 Oct 2018 10:44
Last Modified:26 Oct 2019 07:04
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1466-822X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12803

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