This paper presents development of a multivariate forest structural complexity index based on relationships between field-based structural variables and geospatial data. Remote sensing has been widely used to model individual forest structural attributes at many scales. As opposed to, or in addition to, individual structural parameters such as leaf area index or tree height, overall structural complexity information can enhance forest inventories and provide a variety of information to forest managers, including identifying damage and disturbance as well as indicators of habitat or biodiversity. In this study, a multivariate modelling technique, redundancy analysis, was implemented to derive a model incorporating both horizontal and vertical structural attributes as predicted by an ensemble of high-resolution multispectral airborne imagery and topographic variables. The first redundancy analysis axis of the final model explained 35% of the total variance of the field variables and was used as the complexity index. With a root mean squared error of 19.9%, the model was capable of differentiating four to five relative levels of complexity. This paper presents the forest ecological and modelling aspects of the research. A related paper presents the remote sensing aspects, including application of the model to map predicted structural complexity, map validation, and testing of the method at multiple scales.

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Journal Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Pasher, J. (Jon), & King, D. (2011). Development of a forest structural complexity index based on multispectral airborne remote sensing and topographic data. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 41(1), 44–58. doi:10.1139/X10-175