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Determinants of Above-Ground Biomass and Its Spatial Variability in a Temperate Forest Managed for Timber Production

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Soriano-Luna, María ; Ángeles-Pérez, Gregorio ; Guevara, Mario ; Birdsey, Richard ; Pan, Yude ; Vaquera-Huerta, Humberto ; Valdez-Lazalde, José ; Johnson, Kristofer ; Vargas, Rodrigo

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The proper estimation of above-ground biomass (AGB) stocks of managed forests is a prerequisite to quantifying their role in climate change mitigation. The aim of this study was to analyze the spatial variability of AGB and its uncertainty between actively managed pine and unmanaged pine-oak reference forests in central Mexico. To investigate the determinants of AGB, we analyzed variables related to forest management, stand structure, topography, and climate. We developed linear (LM), generalized additive (GAM), and Random Forest (RF) empirical models to derive spatially explicit estimates and their uncertainty, and compared them. AGB was strongly influenced by forest management, as LiDAR-derived stand structure and stand age explained 80.9% to 89.8% of its spatial variability. The spatial heterogeneity of AGB varied positively with stand structural complexity and age in the managed forests. The type of predictive model had an impact on estimates of total AGB in our study site, which varied by as much as 19%. AGB densities varied from 0 to 492 ± 17 Mg ha-1 and the highest values were predicted by GAM. Uncertainty was not spatially homogeneously distributed and was higher with higher AGB values. Spatially explicit AGB estimates and their association with management and other variables in the study site can assist forest managers in planning thinning and harvesting schedules that would maximize carbon stocks on the landscape while continuing to provide timber and other ecosystem services. Our study represents an advancement toward the development of efficient strategies to spatially estimate AGB stocks and their uncertainty, as the GAM approach was used for the first time with improved results for such a purpose.


random forests, GAM, LiDAR, topography, age structure, spatial uncertainty analysis, forest carbon


Soriano-Luna, María; Ángeles-Pérez, Gregorio; Guevara, Mario; Birdsey, Richard; Pan, Yude; Vaquera-Huerta, Humberto; Valdez-Lazalde, José; Johnson, Kristofer; Vargas, Rodrigo. 2018. Determinants of Above-Ground Biomass and Its Spatial Variability in a Temperate Forest Managed for Timber Production. Forests. 9(8): 490-.

Last updated on: September 26, 2018