Spatially explicit characterization of boreal forest gap dynamics using multi-temporal lidar data.
Udayalaksmi Vepakoma, Benoît St-Onge, Daniel Kneeshaw.
Understanding a disturbance regime such as gap dynamics requires that we study its spatial and temporal characteristics. However, it is still difficult to observe and measure canopy gaps extensively in both space and time using field measurements or bi-dimensional remote sensing images, particularly in open and patchy boreal forests. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of using small footprint lidar to map boreal canopy gaps of sizes ranging from a few square meters to several hectares. Two co-registered canopy height models (CHMs) of optimal resolution were created from lidar datasets acquired respectively in 1998 and 2003. Canopy gaps were automatically delineated using an object-based technique with an accuracy of 96%. Further, combinatorics was applied on the two CHMs and the delineated gaps to provide information on the area of old and new gaps, gap expansions, new random gap openings, gap closure due to lateral growth of adjacent vegetation or due to vertical growth of regeneration. The results obtained establish lidar as an excellent tool for rapidly acquiring detailed and spatially extensive short-term dynamics of canopy gaps. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.