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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Estimation of Tree Lists from Airborne Laser Scanning Using Tree Model Clustering and k-MSN Imputation

Lindberg, Eva; Holmgren, Johan; Olofsson, Kenneth; Wallerman, Jörgen; Olsson, Håkan


Individual tree crowns may be delineated from airborne laser scanning (ALS) data by segmentation of surface models or by 3D analysis. Segmentation of surface models benefits from using a priori knowledge about the proportions of tree crowns, which has not yet been utilized for 3D analysis to any great extent. In this study, an existing surface segmentation method was used as a basis for a new tree model 3D clustering method applied to ALS returns in 104 circular field plots with 12 m radius in pine-dominated boreal forest (64 degrees 14'N, 19 degrees 50'E). For each cluster below the tallest canopy layer, a parabolic surface was fitted to model a tree crown. The tree model clustering identified more trees than segmentation of the surface model, especially smaller trees below the tallest canopy layer. Stem attributes were estimated with k-Most Similar Neighbours (k-MSN) imputation of the clusters based on field-measured trees. The accuracy at plot level from the k-MSN imputation (stem density root mean square error or RMSE 32.7%; stem volume RMSE 28.3%) was similar to the corresponding results from the surface model (stem density RMSE 33.6%; stem volume RMSE 26.1%) with leave-one-out cross-validation for one field plot at a time. Three-dimensional analysis of ALS data should also be evaluated in multi-layered forests since it identified a larger number of small trees below the tallest canopy layer.


LiDAR; ALS; 3D analysis; individual trees; stem list

Published in

Remote Sensing
2013, Volume: 5, number: 4, pages: 1932-1955
Publisher: MDPI AG