Publication Details

Layer stacking: A novel algorithm for individual forest tree segmentation from LiDAR point clouds

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Ayrey, Elias; Fraver, Shawn; Kershaw, John A.; Kenefic, Laura S.; Hayes, Daniel; Weiskittel, Aaron R.; Roth, Brian E.

Year Published

2017

Publication

Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 43(1): 16-27.

Abstract

As light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology advances, it has become common for datasets to be acquired at a point density high enough to capture structural information from individual trees. To process these data, an automatic method of isolating individual trees from a LiDAR point cloud is required. Traditional methods for segmenting trees attempt to isolate prominent tree crowns from a canopy height model. We here introduce a novel segmentation method, layer stacking, which slices the entire forest point cloud at 1-m height intervals and isolates trees in each layer. Merging the results from all layers produces representative tree profiles. When compared to watershed delineation (a widely used segmentation algorithm), layer stacking correctly identified 15% more trees in unevenaged conifer stands, 7%–17% more in even-aged conifer stands, 26% more in mixedwood stands, and 26%–30% more (with 75% of trees correctly detected) in pure deciduous stands. Overall, layer stacking's commission error was mostly similar to or better than that of watershed delineation. Layer stacking performed particularly well in deciduous, leaf-off conditions, even those where tree crowns were less prominent. We conclude that in the tested forest types, layer stacking represents an improvement in segmentation when compared to existing algorithms.

Citation

Ayrey, Elias; Fraver, Shawn; Kershaw, John A.; Kenefic, Laura S.; Hayes, Daniel; Weiskittel, Aaron R.; Roth, Brian E. 2017. Layer stacking: A novel algorithm for individual forest tree segmentation from LiDAR point clouds. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing. 43(1): 16-27. https://doi.org/10.1080/07038992.2017.1252907.

Last updated on: April 10, 2017