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Accounting for tree spatial distribution in a comparison of plot sizes and shapes in dense forest and woodland in Benin (West Africa)

Mensah, Sylvanus, Assogbadjo, Achille Ephrem, Salako, Valère Kolawole, Ago, Expédit Evariste, Glèlè Kakaï, Romain
African journal of ecology 2016 v.54 no.1 pp. 87-94
inventories, linear models, analysis of variance, trees, woodlands, stand basal area, forests, Benin
The study examined simultaneously, the effect of tree spatial distribution, inventory plot size and shape on the estimation error of basal area in two contrasting environments. Twenty and fifteen square plots of 1 ha each (divided into 100 quadrats of 0.01 ha) were randomly set in dense forest and woodland, respectively. Thirteen subplots of various shapes and sizes were obtained from the association of adjacent quadrats. Estimation error was calculated using residual mean square of one‐way ANOVA, based on replications of subplot within 1 ha plots. Tree spatial distribution was measured using Green index. Weighted linear regression and mixed effect models were applied to Box & Cox transformed data. In general, the estimation error of basal area decreased with increase in subplot size. However, the effects of tree spatial distribution and plot shape varied with the vegetation type. Where trees tended to be aggregated, estimation error increased with degree of aggregation, and rectangular plots of 0.24 ha produced an acceptable precision. It was concluded that 0.24 ha rectangular plots can be used in tropical environments where the target parameters vary constantly according to one direction, while square plots of the same size are optimal for reliable analysis in case of randomness.