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Using aerial photographs to remotely assess tree hollow availability


Koch, AJ and Baker, SC, Using aerial photographs to remotely assess tree hollow availability, Biodiversity and Conservation, 20, (5) pp. 1089-1101. ISSN 0960-3115 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1007/s10531-011-0018-z


Tree hollows provide critical habitat for many species worldwide. The conservation of hollow-bearing trees presents a particular challenge for forest managers, partly due to difficulties in predicting their occurrence across a landscape. We trialled a novel approach for assessing relative hollow availability, by remotely estimating mature crown cover and senescence from aerial photographs in Tasmania, Australia. These estimates were tested against plot-based field assessments of actual occurrence of hollow-bearing trees. In dry forest we conducted ground-based surveys of hollows for all mature trees ([50 cm dbh) in 37 half-hectare plots. In wet forest, we conducted helicopter-based surveys of hollows for all mature trees in 45 oldgrowth plots (0.29–4.63 ha). Aerial photographs (1:10,000–1:25,000) were used to classify the senescence and cover of mature crowns in each plot. Regression analysis showed that, in dry forest, hollow-bearing tree densities were strongly related to the remote assessment of mature crown cover, with an 8% increase in variability explained if senescence was also included (R2 = 0.50). In wet forest, mature crown cover alone was the best model (R2 = 0.53 when outliers were removed). Assessing senescence was less important in dense wet forests than dry forest because trees take longer to form mature-shaped crowns and so mature-shaped crowns aremore likely to have hollows. These results suggest that, with skilled photo-interpretation, aerial photographs can be useful for remotely assessing the relative density of hollowbearing trees. This approach has the potential to greatly improve conservation planning for hollows and hollow-dependent fauna.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Koch, AJ (Ms Amelia Koch)
UTAS Author:Baker, SC (Associate Professor Sue Baker)
ID Code:69518
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2011-04-21
Last Modified:2012-03-26

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