Paul Dunn Thesis Defense
Geospatial Analysis of the Effects of Canopy Insolation Partitioning on Biodiversity in a Temperate Montane Forest
Incident solar radiation (insolation) passing through the forest canopy to the ground surface is either absorbed or scattered. This phenomenon is known as the extinction coefficient and its effect on understory photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) and microclimate may be associated with plant species diversity, as distinct communities have unique habitat requirements. The objective of his study is to model insolation and canopy structure to observe effects of these predictors on understory plant biodiversity using remotely sensed and botanical field data.
We used two taxonomic diversity index statistics (Menhinick’s and Simpson) to describe the surveyed plant community in a natural temperate montane forest, modeling the index values at the stand level as response variables in a multiple linear regression analysis. Independent variables included localized area incident solar radiation estimated using a solar model, LiDAR derived canopy height model (CHM), leaf area index (LAI) estimates derived from multi-spectral imagery and several canopy strata metrics derived from LiDAR point cloud data.