Quantifying land use effects on forested riparian buffer vegetation structure using LiDAR data

dc.contributor.authorWasser, Leah
dc.contributor.authorChasmer, Laura
dc.contributor.authorDay, Rick
dc.contributor.authorTaylor, Alan
dc.descriptionOpen access article. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0) appliesen_US
dc.description.abstractQuantifying variability of forested riparian buffer (FRB) vegetation structure with variation in adjacent land use supports an understanding of how anthropogenic disturbance influences the ability of riparian systems to perform ecosystem services. However, quantifying FRB structure over large regions is a challenge and requires efficient data collection and processing methods that integrate conventional in situ vegetation sampling with remote sensing data. This study uses automated algorithms to process airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for mapping of riparian vegetation height, canopy cover and corridor width along 5,900 transects using methods validated in 80 mensuration plots in central Pennsylvania, USA. The key objective of this study was to use airborne LiDAR data to quantify differences in edge vs interior vegetation structure as influenced by buffer width and adjacent land use type, continuously throughout a watershed. Riparian vegetation height, canopy cover and buffer width were estimated along FRB transects adjacent to developed (residential/commercial and agricultural) and undeveloped (grassland) land use types and compared to reference transects within larger forested areas and thus without an edge. On average, buffers adjacent to developed land use types were narrower than those adjacent to natural, undeveloped land use types. Approximately 50% of streams in the watershed had FRB corridors 30 m wide. Only 23% of streams had a corridor width 200 m, the width recommended to support key ecosystem services. Undeveloped land use types contained taller riparian vegetation and wider corridors, whereas developed land use types contained shorter riparian vegetation and narrow FRB corridors. Edge effects also affected vegetation structure. Vegetation height was 5–8 m shorter at the interface between the FRB and the adjacent land use (the matrix) than in the naturally occurring stream edge or in the corridor interior. Canopy cover was not influenced by adjacent land use type or width. This study demonstrates that airborne LiDAR data can be used to accurately map riparian buffer vegetation width, height and canopy cover to support ecological based management of riparian corridors over wide areas.en_US
dc.identifier.citationWasser, L., Chasmer, L., Day, R., & Taylor, A. (2015). Quantifying land use effects on forested riparian buffer vegetation structure using LiDAR data. Ecosphere, 6(1): 10. https://doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00204.1en_US
dc.publisher.departmentDepartment of Geographyen_US
dc.publisher.facultyArts and Scienceen_US
dc.publisher.institutionNational Ecological Observatory Networken_US
dc.publisher.institutionUniversity of Lethbridgeen_US
dc.publisher.institutionPennsylvania State Universityen_US
dc.subjectAirborne laser scanningen_US
dc.subjectCanopy conditionsen_US
dc.subjectEdge effectsen_US
dc.subjectForest inventoryen_US
dc.subjectRemote sensingen_US
dc.subjectRiparian forestsen_US
dc.subjectVegetation structureen_US
dc.subjectWide area mappingen_US
dc.titleQuantifying land use effects on forested riparian buffer vegetation structure using LiDAR dataen_US
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