Traditional vegetation maps capture the horizontal distribution of various vegetation properties, for example, type, species and age/senescence, across a landscape. Ecologists have long known, however, that many important forest properties, for example, interior microclimate, carbon capacity, biomass and habitat suitability, are also dependent on the vertical arrangement of branches and leaves within tree canopies. The objective of this study was to use a digital elevation model (DEM) along with tree canopy-structure metrics derived from a lidar survey conducted using the Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL) to capture a three-dimensional view of vegetation communities in the Barataria Preserve unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana. The EAARL instrument is a raster-scanning, full waveform-resolving, small-footprint, green-wavelength (532-nanometer) lidar system designed to map coastal bathymetry, topography and vegetation structure simultaneously. An unsupervised clustering procedure was then applied to the 3-dimensional-based metrics and DEM to produce a vegetation map based on the vertical structure of the park's vegetation, which includes a flotant marsh, scrub-shrub wetland, bottomland hardwood forest, and baldcypress-tupelo swamp forest. This study was completed in collaboration with the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program's Gulf Coast Network. The methods presented herein are intended to be used as part of a cost-effective monitoring tool to capture change in park resources.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Unsupervised classification of lidar-based vegetation structure metrics at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
U.S. Geological Survey
St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
v, 19 p.
Barataria Preserve;Jean Lafitte National Historical Park And Preserve;Lake Salvador;Mississippi River