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Laser Scanning and Aerial Photography with UAV in Studying the Structure of Forest-Tundra Stands in the Khibiny Mountains

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N.F. Nisametdinow, P.A. Moiseev, I.B. Vorobiev

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Studying the structure of stands is a key point in assessing the role of trees in carbon deposition. Information on the spatial structure of ground vegetation at the upper treeline is still insufficiently presented in modern studies. High resolution remote sensing can provide important data to understand the properties and dynamics of vegetation in these conditions. We test the applicability of ground-based mobile laser scanning of the terrain and aerial photography for the rapid and high-precision assessment of the characteristics of tree stands in the forest-tundra ecotone. We obtained canopy height models (CHMs) of the forest and supplemented them with aerial photographs of the research area on the southeastern slope of the Khibiny Mountains. Using CHMs we have delineated boundaries of tree crowns. The height and projection area were determined for each tree. The first characteristic obtained by laser scanning was compared to the heights of the same trees estimated by field measurements. This was done for the purposes of verification. The comparison revealed that laser scanning data allow to set heights closest to field measurements in case the heights are determined by the maximum values of brightness of pixels of CHMs with manual correction of values when outliers are detected (R2 = 0.84). Since manual correction of outliers is time-consuming, we proposed a way to automate the measurements by determining tree heights using the sum of the average value of pixel brightness and the standard deviation multiplied by 2.5 (R2 = = 0.79). We compared the area characteristics of the stands obtained by laser scanning and the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) photography. Thus, we obtained detailed information on the spatial location and size of 4424 trees in an area of about 10 ha and compared the results of measuring tree characteristics obtained by different methods. It was also found that with increasing height from 290 to 425 m above sea level on the studied slope, the average height of stands decreases gradually from 4.5–5.0 to 1.1–1.6 m with small fluctuations (0.2–0.4 m), while the density of stands changes from 4620–5860 to 145 m2/ha in a non-linear way.


Nail F. Nisametdinow, Candidate of Agriculture, Research Scientist; ResearcherID:AAI-3961-2020, ORCID:
Pavel A. Moiseev, Doctor of Biology; ResearcherIDM-9132-2013, ORCID:
Ivan B. Vorobiev, Research Scientist; ResearcherID:AAK-3957-2021, ORCID:


Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. 8 Marta, 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144, Russian Federation


laser scanning, aerial photography, digital elevation model, digital surface model, canopy height model, segmentation, upper treeline, Khibiny Mountains

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Nisametdinow N.F., Moiseev P.A., Vorobiev I.B. Laser Scanning and Aerial Photography with UAV in Studying the Structure of Forest-Tundra Stands in the Khibiny Mountains. Lesnoy Zhurnal [Russian Forestry Journal], 2021, no. 4, pp. 9–22. DOI: 10.37482/0536-1036-2021-4-9-22


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Laser Scanning and Aerial Photography with UAV in Studying the Structure of Forest-Tundra Stands in the Khibiny Mountains


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