Field methods for sampling tree height for tropical forest biomass estimation

Sullivan, Martin J.P., Lewis, Simon L., Hubau, Wannes, Qie, Lan, Baker, Timothy R., Banin, Lindsay F., Chave, Jerome, Cuni-Sanchez, Aida, Feldpausch, Ted R., López-González, Gabriela, Arets, Eric, Ashton, Peter, Bastin, Jean François, Berry, Nicholas J., Bogaert, Jan, Boot, Rene, Brearley, Francis Q., Brienen, Roel, Burslem, David F.R.P., de Canniere, Charles, Chudomelová, Markéta, Dančák, Martin, Ewango, Corneille, Hédl, Radim, Lloyd, Jon, Makana, Jean-Remy, Malhi, Yadvinder, Marimon, Beatriz S., Marimon Junior, Ben Hur, Metali, Faizah, Moore, Sam, Nagy, Laszlo, Núñez Vargas, Percy, Pendry, Colin A., Ramírez‐Angulo, Hirma, Reitsma, Jan, Rutishauser, Ervan, Abu Salim, Kamariah, Sonké, Bonaventure, Sukri, Rahayu S., Sunderland, Terry, Svátek, Martin, Umunay, Peter, Martinez, Rodolfo Vasquez, Vernimmen, Ronald R.E., Torre, Emilio Vilanova, Vleminckx, Jason, Vos, Vincent, and Phillips, Oliver L. (2018) Field methods for sampling tree height for tropical forest biomass estimation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9 (5). pp. 1179-1189.

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Abstract

1. Quantifying the relationship between tree diameter and height is a key component of efforts to estimate biomass and carbon stocks in tropical forests. Although substantial site-to-site variation in height-diameter allometries has been documented, the time consuming nature of measuring all tree heights in an inventory plot means that most studies do not include height, or else use generic pan-tropical or regional allometric equations to estimate height.

2. Using a pan-tropical dataset of 73 plots where at least 150 trees had in-field ground-based height measurements, we examined how the number of trees sampled affects the performance of locally derived height-diameter allometries, and evaluated the performance of different methods for sampling trees for height measurement.

3. Using cross-validation, we found that allometries constructed with just 20 locally measured values could often predict tree height with lower error than regional or climate-based allometries (mean reduction in prediction error = 0.46 m). The predictive performance of locally derived allometries improved with sample size, but with diminishing returns in performance gains when more than 40 trees were sampled. Estimates of stand-level biomass produced using local allometries to estimate tree height show no over- or under-estimation bias when compared with biomass estimates using field measured heights. We evaluated five strategies to sample trees for height measurement, and found that sampling strategies that included measuring the heights of the ten largest diameter trees in a plot outperformed (in terms of-resulting in local height-diameter models with low height prediction error) entirely random or diameter size-class stratified approaches.

4. Our results indicate that even limited sampling of heights can be used to refine height-diameter allometries. We recommend aiming for a conservative threshold of sampling 50 trees per location for height measurement, and including the ten trees with the largest diameter in this sample.

Item ID: 53711
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2041-210X
Keywords: above-ground biomass estimation, allometry, carbon stocks, forest inventory, forest structure, sample size
Copyright Information: © 2018 The Authors. Methods in Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Gabon's National Parks Agency (ANPN), European Union Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7), European Research Council (ERC), Royal Geographical Society, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (MEYS-CR), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Royal Society (RS)
Projects and Grants: EU FP7 282664, ‘AMAZALERT’, EU FP7 283080, ‘GEOCARBON’, ERC Tropical Forests in the Changing Earth System, MEYS-CR Grant Number: INGO II LG15051, NERC AMAZONICA NE/F005806/1, NERC TROBIT NE/D005590/1, NERC BIO‐RED NE/N012542/1, NERC NE/I021160/1
Date Deposited: 23 May 2018 07:36
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
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