University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Research Seminars > Use of airborne lidar to model vegetation structure and plant species composition of Mediterranean oak forests

Use of airborne lidar to model vegetation structure and plant species composition of Mediterranean oak forests

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Laser scanning, or ‘lidar’, is a remote sensing technology capable of modelling three-dimensional vegetation structure at large spatial scales and also fine resolution. It has a growing number of applications in forestry and ecology. I have been applying lidar to the study of Mediterranean oak forests in southern Iberia, which have a high natural as well as socio-economic importance. I first tested whether lidar can effectively characterise the vertical structure of these ecosystems, and found that it is able to discriminate between different forest community types, defined by data on species composition from the ground. I then sought to understand the spatial arrangement of these different understorey communities in terms of topographically-controlled environmental gradients, and how these are mediated by varying overstorey composition. I present results that show that the fine-scale patterning of the understorey is shaped by both climatic factors and characteristics of the canopy, and discuss possible causes of such linkage, and implications for land management and biodiversity.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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