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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Assessment of bias due to random measurement errors in stem volume growth estimation by the Swedish National Forest Inventory

Suty, Nicole Susanne; Nyström, Kenneth; Ståhl, Göran


We evaluated the performance of two methods for estimating stem volume increment at individual tree level with respect to bias due to random measurement errors. Here, growth is either predicted as the difference between two consecutive volume estimates where single-tree volume functions are applied to data from repeated measurements or by a regression model that is applied to data from a single survey and includes radial increment. In national forest inventories (NFIs), the first method is typically used for permanent plots, the second for temporary plots. The Swedish NFI combines estimates from both plot types to assess growth at national and regional scales and it is, therefore, important that the two methods provide similar results. The accuracy of these estimates is affected by random measurement errors in the independent variables, which may lead to systematic errors in predicted variables due to model non-linearity. Using Taylor series expansion and empirical data from the Swedish NFI we compared the expected bias in stem volume growth estimates for different diameter classes of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). Our results indicate that both methods are fairly insensitive to random measurement errors of the size that occur in the Swedish NFI. The empirical comparison between the two methods showed greater differences for large diameter trees of both pine and spruce. A likely explanation is that the regressions are uncertain because few large trees were available for developing the models.


National forest inventory; Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris; random measurement errors; stem volume increment; Taylor series expansion

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2013, Volume: 28, number: 2, pages: 174-183