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Terrestrial laser scanner based 3D reconstruction of trees and retrieval of leaf area index in a forest environment

Indirabai, Indu, Nair, M.V. Harindranathan, Jaishanker, R. Nair, Nidamanuri, Rama Rao
Ecological informatics 2019 v.53 pp. 100986
algorithms, biodiversity, branches, canopy, canopy height, carbon cycle, computer software, forest resources, forests, information processing, leaf area index, lidar, models, scanners, trees, India
Three-dimensional reconstruction of trees and the estimation of biophysical parameters is significant for the management of forest resources, ecological studies carbon cycle and biodiversity. Terrestrial LiDAR data provides detailed, objective and three-dimensional measurement of forest structure and exact metrics of the tree canopies. Several methods for tree detection including canopy height models and raster interpolation models are based on commercial software and huge data processing. The objective of the given study is the three-dimensional reconstruction of trees by implementing segmentation algorithms and thereby estimating the Leaf Area Index of individual tree segments by terrestrial laser scanned data in the Mudumalai forests of Western Ghats, India. The hierarchical minimum cut segmentation method is used for the three-dimensional reconstruction of the individual trees by tracking cylinders along individual branches and trees in a hierarchical order. Super voxel clustering method is also implemented in the study for tree reconstruction and estimating the tree parameters. Leaf area index is calculated by applying a multivariate regression technique for the heights and the diameter obtained from both the segmentation methods. Results obtained indicated a strong correlation with the in-situ measurements which are obtained from the instruments. The approach addresses the applicability of segmentation algorithms which can be run fully automatically. The approach successfully reconstructed a high precision and realistic model of trees in the Western Ghats region which failed in the case of traditional tree modeling methods which requires multiple instruments operating simultaneously for extracting each parameter. The method proved that using TLS; multiple forest parameters can be estimated simultaneously.