Open-File Report 2012–1096
Traditional vegetation maps capture the horizontal distribution of various vegetation properties, for example, type, species and age/senescence, across a landscape. Ecologists have long known, however, that many important forest properties, for example, interior microclimate, carbon capacity, biomass and habitat suitability, are also dependent on the vertical arrangement of branches and leaves within tree canopies. The objective of this study was to use a digital elevation model (DEM) along with tree canopy-structure metrics derived from a lidar survey conducted using the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) to capture a three-dimensional view of vegetation communities in the Barataria Preserve unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana. The EAARL instrument is a raster-scanning, full waveform-resolving, small-footprint, green-wavelength (532-nanometer) lidar system designed to map coastal bathymetry, topography and vegetation structure simultaneously. An unsupervised clustering procedure was then applied to the 3-dimensional-based metrics and DEM to produce a vegetation map based on the vertical structure of the park's vegetation, which includes a flotant marsh, scrub-shrub wetland, bottomland hardwood forest, and baldcypress-tupelo swamp forest.
This study was completed in collaboration with the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program's Gulf Coast Network. The methods presented herein are intended to be used as part of a cost-effective monitoring tool to capture change in park resources.
First posted September 13, 2012
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Kranenburg, Christine, Palaseanu-Lovejoy, Monica, Nayegandhi, Amar, Brock, John, and Woodman, Robert, 2012, Unsupervised classification of lidar-based vegetation structure metrics at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1096, 19 p.
EAARL Vegetation Metrics
Results and Discussion