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Title: Estimation of aboveground herbaceous biomass using visually ranked digital photographs
Contributor(s): Morgan, Helen  (author); Reid, Nick  (author)orcid ; Hunter, John T  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2018
DOI: 10.1071/rj17033
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Abstract: Methods for estimating aboveground herbaceous biomass in the field have generally involved calibrating visual estimates against clipped, dried and weighed biomass samples, requiring lengthy periods of estimation and destructive sampling in the field. Here we developed and tested a photographic estimation technique (PET) that minimises field time and provides accurate estimates of aboveground herbaceous biomass. Photographs of the biomass to be estimated taken in the field are ranked against calibration images of known biomass in the laboratory. The study was conducted in New South Wales, Australia, in grassy forest dells and grasslands at Booroolong Nature Reserve in the temperate New England Tablelands Bioregion and in semi-arid grassy shrubland on Naree Station in the arid Mulga Lands Bioregion. Photographs of quadrats containing the herbaceous biomass to be estimated were taken in successive years at both sites. Calibration and validation quadrats were also photographed, and the vegetation clipped, bagged, dried and weighed. The calibration and validation photographs were rank-ordered independently by three observers in terms of estimated dry weight, and the validation quadrats assigned a putative dry weight by reference to the known weights of the calibration images in the rank order. The accuracy of each observer's estimates was assessed by regressing the estimated weight of each validation quadrat against the actual weight, which was withheld from the observer during the estimation procedure. Regression analysis of visually estimated weights on actual weights of validation quadrats yielded regression coefficients (R2) of 0.80-0.98 and 0.81-0.97 in the temperate-zone and arid-zone sites, respectively. PET was reliably used to visually estimate aboveground herbaceous biomass across a range of communities in two different climatic zones. The benefits of PET include reduced field time, minimisation of destructive sampling and avoidance of observer drift in estimating biomass in the field.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Rangeland Journal, 40(1), p. 9-18
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 1834-7541
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
060202 Community Ecology (excl. Invasive Species Ecology)
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified
960699 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation not elsewhere classified
960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 180304 Freshwater assimilative capacity
189999 Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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