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Estimating tree and stand sapwood area in spatially heterogeneous southeastern Australian forests


Jaskierniak, D and Kuczera, G and Benyon, RG and Lucieer, A, Estimating tree and stand sapwood area in spatially heterogeneous southeastern Australian forests, Journal of Plant Ecology, 9, (3) pp. 272-284. ISSN 1752-9921 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Author

DOI: doi:10.1093/jpe/rtv056


Aims: Natural and anthropogenic changes in forests can have important influences on transpiration and water production. Understanding the effects of increasing disturbances, due for example to climate change and forest harvesting, requires detailed information on how forest density and structural attributes relate to transpiration. Mean annual transpiration of eucalypt forest communities is often strongly correlated with total cross-sectional sapwood area. Our aim was to test an efficient method for estimating sapwood area at 1.3 m height (SA1.3) in a large number of trees to understand the spatial heterogeneity of tree and stand sapwood area within and between forest communities, and develop allometric relationships that predict SA1.3 with forest inventory data. We also apply tree competition models to determine the degree to which the relationship between SA1.3 and tree basal area at 1.3 m height (BA1.3) is influenced by competition.

Methods: We visited 25 recently harvested southeastern Australian forest sites consisting of 1379 trees and 5 Eucalyptus species to evaluate a new efficient data collection method for estimating SA1.3 with tree taper and stump dimensions data using mixed effects models. The locations of 784 stumps within one 5-ha site were accurately mapped using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and four distance-dependent tree competition models were applied across the site to explain within-stand variation in the ratio of SA1.3 to BA1.3. Data from 24 additional sites, consisting of ten 15 m radial plots per site, were used to analyse within-site variation in RHa (the ratio of stand sapwood area SAHa to stand basal area BAHa). The radial plots were merged within each site to evaluate between-site variations in RHa across the landscape. For predicting SAHa with forest inventory data, we computed the relationship between SAHa and a new index of total stem perimeter per hectare, defined as BAHaNT, where NT is tree stocking density.

Important Findings: Our 1379 measured stems represent the most comprehensive measure of sapwood area, surpassing the 757 measured stems in native eucalypt forests published in literature. The species-specific RHa varied considerably across sites and therefore extrapolating SAHa with spatially distributed BAHa maps and a generalized RHa would introduce local uncertainty. We found that the species-specific stem perimeter index was more effective at capturing variability in SAHa across the landscape using forest composition, structure and density data (R2: 0.72-0.77). The strong correlation between tree SA1.3 and BA1.3 improved slightly using tree competition models (R2 increased from 0.86 to 0.88). Relating SAHa to routinely measured forest inventory attributes within permanent plots and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data may provide opportunities to map forest water use in time and space across large areas disturbed by wildfire and logging.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:forest hydrology, stand sapwood area, spatial heterogeneity, tree competition, overstorey transpiration, forest inventory
Research Division:Engineering
Research Group:Geomatic engineering
Research Field:Photogrammetry and remote sensing
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems
UTAS Author:Lucieer, A (Professor Arko Lucieer)
ID Code:115252
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2017-03-10
Last Modified:2017-10-25

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