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Journal of Applied Remote Sensing

Plot-level aboveground woody biomass modeling using canopy height and auxiliary remote sensing data in a heterogeneous savanna
Author(s): David Gwenzi; Michael A. Lefsky
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Paper Abstract

Remote sensing studies aiming at assessing woody biomass have demonstrated a strong relationship between canopy height and plot-level aboveground biomass, but most of these studies focused on closed canopy forests. To date, a few studies have examined the strength and reliability of this relationship using large footprint lidar in savannas. Furthermore, there have been few studies of appropriate methods for the comparison of models that relate aboveground biomass to canopy height metrics without consideration of variation in species composition (generic models) to models developed for individual species composition or vegetation types. We developed generic models using the classical least-squares regression modeling approach to relate selected canopy height metrics to aboveground woody biomass in a savanna landscape. Hierarchical Bayesian analysis (HBA) was then used to explore the implications of using generic or composition-specific models. Our study used the estimates of aboveground biomass from field data, canopy height estimates from airborne discrete return lidar, and a proxy for canopy cover (the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) from Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper data, collected from the oak savannas of Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County, California. Models were developed and analyzed using estimates of canopy height and aboveground biomass calculated at the level of 50-m diameter plots, comparable with footprint diameter of existing large footprint spaceborne lidar data. The two generic models that incorporated canopy cover proxies performed better than one model that did not use canopy cover information. From the HBA, we found out that for all models both the intercept and slope had interspecific variability. The valley oak dominated plots consistently had higher slopes and intercepts, whereas the plots dominated by blue oaks had the lowest. However, the intercept and slope values of the composition-specific models did not differ much from the generic (overall) values and their 95% credible intervals (CIs) overlapped the generic mean values. We conclude that the narrow range of the distribution and the overlap of the CIs of the composition-specific and generic parameters suggest that scaling rules do exist for savannas. The distribution of the posterior densities of the differences between composition-level and generic-level parameter values showed high support for the use of generic parameters, suggesting that all three models are applicable across the range of compositions in this study. Therefore, in this case, the choice of method depends more on secondary considerations such as data availability and scale of analyses.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 January 2016
PDF: 15 pages
J. Appl. Rem. Sens. 10(1) 016001 doi: 10.1117/1.JRS.10.016001
Published in: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing Volume 10, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
David Gwenzi, Colorado State Univ. (United States)
Michael A. Lefsky, Colorado State Univ. (United States)

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