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A bottom-up approach to segment individual deciduous trees using leaf-off lidar point cloud data

Lu, Xingcheng, Guo, Qinghua, Li, Wenkai, Flanagan, Jacob
ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing 2014 v.94 pp. 1-12
algorithms, branches, coniferous forests, deciduous forests, lidar, streams, tree crown, trees, watersheds, Pennsylvania
Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) can generate three-dimensional (3D) point cloud which can be used to characterize horizontal and vertical forest structure, so it has become a popular tool for forest research. Recently, various methods based on top-down scheme have been developed to segment individual tree from lidar data. Some of these methods, such as the one developed by Li et al. (2012), can obtain the accuracy up to 90% when applied in coniferous forests. However, the accuracy will decrease when they are applied in deciduous forest because the interlacing tree branches can increase the difficulty to determine the tree top. In order to solve challenges of the tree segmentation in deciduous forests, we develop a new bottom-up method based on the intensity and 3D structure of leaf-off lidar point cloud data in this study. We applied our algorithm to segment trees in a forest at the Shavers Creek Watershed in Pennsylvania. Three indices were used to assess the accuracy of our method: recall, precision and F-score. The results show that the algorithm can detect 84% of the tree (recall), 97% of the segmented trees are correct (precision) and the overall F-score is 90%. The result implies that our method has good potential for segmenting individual trees in deciduous broadleaf forest.