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New insights into large tropical tree mass and structure from direct harvest and terrestrial lidar

Burt, A; Boni Vicari, M; da Costa, ACL; Coughlin, I; Meir, P; Rowland, L; Disney, M; (2021) New insights into large tropical tree mass and structure from direct harvest and terrestrial lidar. Royal Society Open Science , 8 (2) , Article 201458. 10.1098/rsos.201458. Green open access

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Abstract

A large portion of the terrestrial vegetation carbon stock is stored in the above-ground biomass (AGB) of tropical forests, but the exact amount remains uncertain, partly owing to the lack of measurements. To date, accessible peer-reviewed data are available for just 10 large tropical trees in the Amazon that have been harvested and directly measured entirely via weighing. Here, we harvested four large tropical rainforest trees (stem diameter: 0.6–1.2 m, height: 30–46 m, AGB: 3960–18 584 kg) in intact old-growth forest in East Amazonia, and measured above-ground green mass, moisture content and woody tissue density. We first present rare ecological insights provided by these data, including unsystematic intra-tree variations in density, with both height and radius. We also found the majority of AGB was usually found in the crown, but varied from 42 to 62%. We then compare non-destructive approaches for estimating the AGB of these trees, using both classical allometry and new lidar-based methods. Terrestrial lidar point clouds were collected pre-harvest, on which we fitted cylinders to model woody structure, enabling retrieval of volume-derived AGB. Estimates from this approach were more accurate than allometric counterparts (mean tree-scale relative error: 3% versus 15%), and error decreased when up-scaling to the cumulative AGB of the four trees (1% versus 15%). Furthermore, while allometric error increased fourfold with tree size over the diameter range, lidar error remained constant. This suggests error in these lidar-derived estimates is random and additive. Were these results transferable across forest scenes, terrestrial lidar methods would reduce uncertainty in stand-scale AGB estimates, and therefore advance our understanding of the role of tropical forests in the global carbon cycle.

Type: Article
Title: New insights into large tropical tree mass and structure from direct harvest and terrestrial lidar
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.201458
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201458
Language: English
Additional information: Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: tropical forests; allometry; destructive harvest; terrestrial lidar; above-ground biomass; tree structure
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122363
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