LaRue, E.A.; Wagner, F.W.; Fei, S.; Atkins, J.W.; Fahey, R.T.; Gough, C.M.; Hardiman, B.S. Compatibility of Aerial and Terrestrial LiDAR for Quantifying Forest Structural Diversity. Remote Sens.2020, 12, 1407.
LaRue, E.A.; Wagner, F.W.; Fei, S.; Atkins, J.W.; Fahey, R.T.; Gough, C.M.; Hardiman, B.S. Compatibility of Aerial and Terrestrial LiDAR for Quantifying Forest Structural Diversity. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 1407.
Structural diversity is a key feature of forest ecosystems that influences ecosystem functions from local to macroscales. The ability to measure structural diversity in forests with varying ecological composition and management history can improve the understanding of linkages between forest structure and ecosystem functioning. Terrestrial LiDAR has often been used to provide a detailed characterization of structural diversity at local scales, but it is largely unknown whether these same structural features are detectable using aerial LiDAR data that are available across larger spatial scales. We used univariate and multivariate analyses to quantify cross-compatibility of structural diversity metrics from terrestrial versus aerial LiDAR in seven National Ecological Observatory Network sites across the eastern USA. We found strong univariate agreement between terrestrial and aerial LiDAR metrics of canopy height, openness, internal heterogeneity, and leaf area, but found marginal agreement between metrics that describe heterogeneity of the outer most layer of the canopy. Terrestrial and aerial LiDAR both demonstrated the ability to distinguish forest sites from structural diversity metrics in multivariate space, but terrestrial LiDAR was able to resolve finer-scale detail within sites. Our findings indicate that aerial LiDAR can be of use in quantifying broad-scale variation in structural diversity across macroscales.
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