Review article

Airborne lidar remote sensing applications in non-forested short stature environments: a review

Ranjani W. Kulawardhana , Sorin C. Popescu, Rusty A. Feagin

Ranjani W. Kulawardhana
Department of Biology, Jackson State University, 1400 Lynch Street, Jackson, MS, USA. Email: ranjani.w.kulawardhana@jsums.edu
Sorin C. Popescu
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 1500 Research Parkway, Suite B 221, TAMU 2120, College Station, TX 77845, USA
Rusty A. Feagin
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 1500 Research Parkway, Suite B 221, TAMU 2120, College Station, TX 77845, USA

Online First: January 19, 2017
Kulawardhana, R., Popescu, S., Feagin, R. 2017. Airborne lidar remote sensing applications in non-forested short stature environments: a review. Annals of Forest Research DOI:10.15287/afr.2016.719


Lidar (light detection and ranging) remote sensing technology provides promising tools for 3D characterization of the earth’s surface.  In ecosystem studies, lidar derived structural parameters relating to vegetation and terrain have been extensively used in many applications and are rapidly expanding.  Yet, most of the lidar applications have focused on tall, woody vegetation in forested environments and less research attention is given to non-forest, short stature vegetation dominated ecosystems.  Similar to the lidar developments in forestry, novel methodological approaches and algorithm developments will be necessary to improve estimates of structural and biophysical properties (i.e. biomass and carbon storage) in non-forested short stature environments.  Under changing climate scenarios, the latter is particularly useful to improve our understanding of their future role as terrestrial carbon sinks.  In an attempt to identify research gaps in airborne lidar remote sensing application in short stature vegetation studies, in this review article we provide a comprehensive overview on the current state of airborne lidar applications.  Our focus is mainly on the levels of accuracies and errors reported, as well as the potentials and limitations of the methods applied in these studies.  We also provide insights into future research needs and applications in these environments.

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  • Ranjani W. Kulawardhana
  • Sorin C. Popescu
  • Rusty A. Feagin
  • Ranjani W. Kulawardhana
  • Sorin C. Popescu
  • Rusty A. Feagin