Terrestrial Scanning / Forestry Assessment & Agriculture

Martin Jacobs et al.: Assessment of defoliation and subsequent growth losses caused by Lymantria dispar using terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) 21.01.2022

Foliation strongly determines all tree growth processes but can be reduced by various stress factors. Insect defoliation starts at variable times and is one stress factor that may affect photosynthetic processes and cause immediate reactions like refoliation, which are difficult to detect by surveys repeated at 1-year intervals. This study used a large-scale field experiment in German oak/mixed forests affected by gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) to test the use of terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) for detecting inter-annual foliation and growth losses at the individual tree level caused by the gypsy moth. The experiment comprised two levels of gypsy moth defoliation risk, high (H) and low (L), as well as two pest control treatment levels: spraying with the insecticide Mimic (M) or unsprayed control (C). The factorial design consisted of four treatment combinations (HC, HM, LC, and LM), applied to 11 spatial blocks with a total of 44 plots. The TLS approach detected the defoliation caused by the gypsy moth, estimated as leaf area and crown perforation parameters. For the first time, TLS-derived tree foliation was evaluated based on inter-annual stem growth. Leaf area and crown perforation showed a correlation of + 0.6 and – 0.35, respectively, with basal area increments. Furthermore, this study revealed subsequent growth losses in the same year due to defoliation. Our results show that TLS can offer new opportunities to develop new indicators that monitor foliation at the individual tree level. The crown perforation can describe defoliation or the tree's vitality based on one scanning campaign, whereas the leaf area needed at least two.

For terrestrial data acquisition a RIEGL VZ-400i Terrestrial Laser Scanner has been used.

The full article was published in the journal Trees (2022), publishing house: Springer Nature Switzerland AG, and can be found here.