Estimation of plant and leaf area index using three techniques in a mature native eucalypt canopy


Leaf area index (L) is a critical variable in monitoring and modelling forest condition and growth and is therefore important for foresters and environmental scientists to measure routinely and accurately. We compared three different methods for estimating L: a plant canopy analyser (PCA), a point‐quadrat camera method and digital hemispherical photography at a native eucalypt forest canopy at Tumbarumba in southern New South Wales, Australia. All of these methods produced indirect estimates of L based on the close coupling between radiation penetration and canopy structure. The individual L estimates were compared, and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each method were discussed in relation to use in forest inventory and in field data collection programmes for remote sensing calibration and verification. The comparison indicated that all three methods, PCA, digital hemispherical photography and the modified point‐quadrat camera method, produced similar estimates with a standard error between techniques of less than 0.2 L units. All methods, however, provided biased estimates of L and calibration is required to derive true stand L. A key benefit, however, of all of these estimation methods is that observations can be collected in a short period of time (1–2 h of field‐work per plot).


Earth Systems Research Center

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Austral Ecology



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