Ground based LiDAR demonstrates the legacy of management history to canopy structure and composition across a fragmented temperate woodland

McMahon, Sean and Bebber, Daniel and Butt, Nathalie and Crockatt, Martha and Kirby, Keith and Parker, Geoffrey and Riutta, Terhi and Slade, Eleanor M. (2015) Ground based LiDAR demonstrates the legacy of management history to canopy structure and composition across a fragmented temperate woodland. Forest Ecology and Management, 335. pp. 255-260. ISSN 0378-1127

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The structure of forest canopies correlates with stand maturity and biomass, and develops consistently over time. Remote-sensing technologies such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) have become prominent tools for measuring structural characteristics of forests. We walked a portable canopy LiDAR (PCL), an up-facing rangefinder that detects vegetation through the canopy at two kilohertz, along multiple transects at ten different forest stands in the area of Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, UK. The stands had different species composition, were situated at forest edges and in forest core, were in fragments of different sizes and had different land-use histories. With these data we tested structural differences in vegetation across these stand types. Although none of the stands have been managed in the last 70 years, they have not converged structurally. Vertical canopy structure differed between stands that regrew naturally from open field and those with a history of coppice management. Forest stands that have developed following major fellings or through spread on to former grazing land showed some structural similarities to classic natural succession from large disturbances. Stands that were actively managed as coppice over preceding centuries, showed a similar structural pattern to mature forest, but without the tall overstorey that can develop into old growth communities. This structural divergence indicates two distinct pathways for secondary forests: with implications for the future biomass, stand structure, and species composition. The legacy of management practices can determine canopy structure decades after the forest is removed from active management, but can also be difficult to discern with remote sensing data. We recommend that “ground-truthing” remote sensing data go beyond traditional checks of height and topography, as the history and composition of secondary forests can have an important influence on the pace and compositional structure of recovery from management.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Forest Ecology and Management
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? canopy structurelidarforest fragmentsland-use historysecondary forestwytham woodsnature and landscape conservationforestrymanagement, monitoring, policy and law ??
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Deposited On:
28 Oct 2014 13:28
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 14:51