Deriving a Framework for Estimating Individual Tree Measurements with Lidar for Use in the TAMBEETLE Southern Pine Beetle Infestation Growth Model



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The overall goal of this study was to develop a framework for using airborne lidar to derive inputs for the SPB infestation growth model TAMBEETLE. The specific objectives were (1) to estimate individual tree characteristics of XY location, individual bole height (IBH), diameter at breast height (DBH), length of crown (CrHT), and age for use in TAMBEETLE; (2) to estimate individual tree age using lidar-estimated height and site index provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO); and (3) to compare TAMBEETLE simulation results using field measurements and lidarderived measurements as inputs. Diameter at breast height, individual bole height, and crown length were estimated using lidar with an error for mean measurements at plot level of 0.16cm, 0.19m, and 1.07m, respectively. These errors were within root mean square error (RMSE) for other studies at the study site. Age was estimated using the site index provided by SSURGO and the site index curves created for the study area with an RMSE of 4.8 years for mean plot age. Underestimation of tree height by lidar and error in the site index curve explained 91% of the error in mean plot age. TAMBEETLE was used to compare spot growth between a lidar-derived forest map and a forest map generated by TAMBEETLE, based on sample plot characteristics. The lidar-derived forest performed comparably to the TAMBEETLE generated forest. Using lidar to map forests can provide the large spatial extents of the TAMBEETLE generated forest while maintaining the spatially explicit forest characteristics, which were previously only available through field measurements.