Multivariate forest structure modelling and mapping using high resolution airborne imagery and topographic information

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Remote sensing has been widely used for modelling and mapping individual forest structural attributes, such as LAI and stem density, however the development and evaluation of methods for simultaneously modelling and mapping multivariate aspects of forest structure are comparatively limited. Multivariate representation of forest structure can be used as a means to infer other environmental attributes such as biodiversity and habitat, which have often been shown to be enhanced in more structurally diverse or complex forests. Image-based modelling of multivariate forest structure is useful in developing an understanding of the associations between different aspects of vertical and horizontal structure and image characteristics. Models can also be applied spatially to all image pixels to produce maps of multivariate forest structure as an alternative to sample-based field assessment. This research used high spatial resolution multispectral airborne imagery to provide spectral, spatial, and object-based information in the development of a model of multivariate forest structure as represented by twenty-four field variables measured in plots within a temperate hardwood forest in southern Quebec, Canada. Redundancy Analysis (RDA) was used to develop a model that explained a statistically significant proportion of the variance of these structural attributes. The resulting model included image variables representing mostly within-crown and within-shadow brightness variance (texture) as well as elevation, taken from a DEM of the study area. It was applied spatially across the entire study area to produce a continuous map of predicted multivariate forest structure. Bootstrapping validation of the model provided an RMSE of 19.9%, while independent field validation of mapped areas of complex and simple structure showed accuracies of 89% and 69%, respectively. Multiscale testing using resampled imagery suggested that the methods could possibly be used with current pan-sharpened, or future sub-metre resolution, multispectral satellite imagery, which would provide much greater spatial coverage and reduced image processing compared to airborne imagery. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.




Pasher, J., & King, D. J. (2010). Multivariate forest structure modelling and mapping using high resolution airborne imagery and topographic information. Remote Sensing of Environment, 114(8), 1718–1732.

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