PS Seminar Series - Seeing forests in a new light: virtual forests through 3D laser measurements

Abstract - The physical forms of trees, in particular their dimensions and structure, provide fundamental insights into how forests function. Measuring forest structure (the size and location of leaves, branches and trunks) is not straightforward and is often represented in one or two dimensions only. Representation of inherently 3D structural properties in 1D or 2D can help simplify analysis, but also implies a loss of information that may be vital for a proper understanding of the ecosystem. In this presentation, I will show how new observations, using 3D laser scanners in particular, are providing us with a new way to estimate the structure of trees. These measurements provide a wealth of information that allows us to build new 3D models to better exploit satellite and airborne observations, estimate the mass of trees, explore theories of metabolic scaling or monitor phenology. I will show how these highly-detailed 3D models, based on film industry animation techniques, can give us a 'virtual laboratory'. These virtual forests can assist in testing simpler models, methods and their associated uncertainties, and are being used for a variety of applications. Furthermore, 3D laser measurements allow for objective assessment of canopy structure and the vertical distribution of canopy constituents and light regime. This provides new insights into forest architecture and classification, which is often challenging in tropical forests because of their high biodiversity and complex vegetation structure.

Biography (introduced by Patrick Meir) - Dr Kim Calders is a researcher in Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology, at the University of Ghent, Belgium. His research focuses on the use of LiDAR to measure forest structure from the ground and from the air. He's worked in several Australian forest systems as well as elsewhere. The talk will be of interest to those wishing to estimate tree biomass and structure, explore metabolic scaling or examine phenology... or are just interested in appreciating tree structure! For more information, use this LINK