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Quantifying Standing Dead Tree Volume and Structural Loss with Voxelized Terrestrial Lidar Data
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Standing dead trees (SDTs) are an important forest component and impact a variety of ecosystem processes, yet the carbon pool dynamics of SDTs are poorly constrained in terrestrial carbon cycling models. The ability to model wood decay and carbon cycling in relation to detectable changes in tree structure and volume over time would greatly improve such models. The overall objective of this study was to provide automated aboveground volume estimates of SDTs and automated procedures to detect, quantify, and characterize structural losses over time with terrestrial lidar data. The specific objectives of this study were: 1) develop an automated SDT volume estimation algorithm providing accurate volume estimates for trees scanned in dense forests; 2) develop an automated change detection methodology to accurately detect and quantify SDT structural loss between subsequent terrestrial lidar observations; and 3) characterize the structural loss rates of pine and oak SDTs in southeastern Texas. A voxel-based volume estimation algorithm, “TreeVolX”, was developed and incorporates several methods designed to robustly process point clouds of varying quality levels. The algorithm operates on horizontal voxel slices by segmenting the slice into distinct branch or stem sections then applying an adaptive contour interpolation and interior filling process to create solid reconstructed tree models (RTMs). TreeVolX estimated large and small branch volume with an RMSE of 7.3% and 13.8%, respectively. A voxel-based change detection methodology was developed to accurately detect and quantify structural losses and incorporated several methods to mitigate the challenges presented by shifting tree and branch positions as SDT decay progresses. The volume and structural loss of 29 SDTs, composed of Pinus taeda and Quercus stellata, were successfully estimated using multitemporal terrestrial lidar observations over elapsed times ranging from 71 – 753 days. Pine and oak structural loss rates were characterized by estimating the amount of volumetric loss occurring in 20 equal-interval height bins of each SDT. Results showed that large pine snags exhibited more rapid structural loss in comparison to medium-sized oak snags in this study.
standing dead tree
Putman, Eric Bryan (2017). Quantifying Standing Dead Tree Volume and Structural Loss with Voxelized Terrestrial Lidar Data. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from