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Title: Is randomized branch sampling suitable to assess wood volume of temperate broadleaved old-growth forests?
Authors: Chirici, Gherardo
Puletti, Nicola
Salvati, Riccardo
Arbi, Francesco
Zolli, Catherine
Corona, Piermaria
Keywords: Horvitz–Thompson estimation;Randomized branch sampling;Old-growth;Precision;Simulation;Tree climbing
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Elsevier
Source: Chirici, G. et al. 2014. Is randomized branch sampling suitable to assess wood volume of temperate broadleaved old-growth forests? "Forest Ecology and Management" 312: 225–230
Old-growth forests are characterized by the presence of large and very large trees. The estimation of their wood volume and biomass is essential in order to monitor the ecological processes in these stands and
their contribution to carbon cycle. However, conventional wood volume estimation techniques based on mensuration of stem diameter at breast height and tree height is most often unfeasible for large and very large trees in old-growth forests because volume models or tables are usually elaborated from trees of smaller size grown up in regularly managed forest stands. Random Branch Sampling (RBS) is often proposed as a possible estimation alternative under such conditions. Starting from the ground level
some of the parts of the main trunk and of the branches are sampled and measured to estimate the overall wood volume (or other biophysical variables). The application of RBS in old-growth forests, where tree
cutting is usually forbidden or very difficult, requires that the crown of the tree can physically be reached to measure the sampled parts. We argue that under such conditions it is usually preferable to fully measure all the components of the tree crown because RBS estimates are not precise if based on only one sampling path and that, on the other hand, measuring the main trunk and all the branches by tree-climbing consumes the same time as replicating several RBS paths on the same tree. To demonstrate our
hypothesis we selected 16 large beech trees located in the old-growth forest of Mount Cimini in Central Italy. Using a modern tree-climbing approach the main trunk and all the branches were measured and recorded in the field. The database was used to simulate RBS paths. Real values from volume census were
contrasted with estimates based on RBS. On the whole, RBS estimates based on one single path prove to be highly imprecise. Even for trees characterized by a rather regular form, at least three RBS paths should be repeated on the same tree to maintain the relative standard error under or near 15%. This paper introduces the problem and describes the experimental test. The results are discussed under the perspective of standardized application of the proposed methodology.
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ISSN: 0378-1127
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