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Krishna Moorthy, Sruthi M. Terrestrial LiDAR reveals a shift in tree allometry due to long-term liana infestation Poster
Sruthi M. Krishna Moorthy1, Kim Calders1 and Hans Verbeeck1
(1) Ghent University

Lianas are increasing in abundance and biomass in neotropical forests. Lianas compete intensely with trees for light thereby increasing tree mortality and reducing tree growth. Here, we use nondestructive measurements through terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) to quantify the impact of liana load on tree structure and allometry.

We collected TLS data from a five ha area in Barro Colorado Island (BCI), a mature tropical moist forest in Panama. An expert visually assessed liana load on all the trees (≥ 20 cm). Liana load observations for about 200 trees in the five ha area have been done since 2012.

We compared the following structural parameters between 20 liana-free and 20 severe liana- laden trees: tree height, crown depth to tree height ratio, crown projection area, volume and biomass. Our results reveal that severe liana load significantly alters the structure and allometry of trees resulting in shorter trees with smaller crowns. As a result, liana-laden trees have significantly lower volume and biomass than their liana-free counterparts. Scaling to the stand- level revealed that severe liana infestation could result in more than 14% reduction in the estimated biomass. Quantifying and accounting for the change in tree structure owing to liana load using TLS is crucial when estimating AGB of high liana abundant forests, especially with the upcoming space-borne biomass mapping missions needing reliable, high quality in situ data. Accurate and reliable estimates of forest biomass are necessary for the successful implementation of climate change mitigation policies like reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+).