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Lidar Aboveground Biomass Estimates in Shrublands

Determining aboveground biomass is important for estimating fuel loads, measuring carbon storage, and assessing habitat quality. Remote sensing may offer a more efficient alternative to common, labor intensive methods of measuring aboveground biomass that are difficult to apply across large areas. Researchers from Boise State University and the USGS modeled aboveground biomass across more than 75 thousand hectares of shrub-steppe in southwest Idaho using vegetation information from airborne lidar combined with ground-measured biomass data. The best lidar prediction models of biomass at the plot-level (1 hectare) incorporated an average of lidar metrics from finer resolutions (1 square meter) to minimize boundary effects and smooth variability. Overall, the two models tested explained more than 74 percent of the variance in biomass. The most important lidar variables were associated with vegetation structure and associated statistics, such as standard deviation of height. These methods allowed researchers to develop a spatially-explicit estimate of shrub biomass across their study area.

Li, A., Dhakal, S., Glenn, N.F., Spaete, L.P., Shinneman, D.J., Pilliod, D.S., Arkle, R.S., McIlroy, S.K., 2017, Lidar aboveground vegetation biomass estimates in shrublands- prediction, uncertainties and application to coarser scales: Remote Sensing, v. 9, no. 9, p. 903, https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090903[Details]

Contact: Douglas Shinneman, FRESC, 208-426-5206, Profile

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