Near-infrared digital hemispherical photography enables correction of plant area index for woody material during leaf-on conditions

Brown L. A., Morris H., Morrone R., Sinclair M., Williams O., Hunt M., ...More

Ecological Informatics, vol.79, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 79
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ecoinf.2023.102441
  • Journal Name: Ecological Informatics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, PASCAL, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Geobase, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: DHP, Leaf area index (LAI), Near-infrared imagery, PAI, Wood area index (WAI)
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Indirect optical measurement techniques enable efficient and non-destructive estimation of plant area index (PAI). However, because they cannot distinguish between foliage and other canopy elements, corrections are needed to determine leaf area index (LAI), which is typically the property of interest. In this study, we investigate near-infrared digital hemispherical photography (DHP) as a means of estimating and correcting for woody material. Using data collected at a deciduous broadleaf forest site, we show that near-infrared DHP could successfully estimate effective wood area index (WAIe) and wood area index (WAI) during leaf-on conditions, providing similar mean values (WAIe = 0.88, WAI = 1.53) to those determined from visible DHP during leaf-off conditions (WAIe = 0.87, WAI = 1.38). This information was used to correct estimates of effective PAI (PAIe) and PAI, enabling effective LAI (LAIe) and LAI to be derived with low RMSD (0.33 for LAIe and 0.76 for LAI), NRMSD (12% for LAIe and 19% for LAI), and bias (−0.01 for LAIe and −0.16 for LAI). Not correcting for woody material led to overestimation of LAIe by 31% on average and 46% in the worst observed case, and the degree of overestimation was further enlarged for LAI (42% on average and 61% in the worst observed case). In agreement with previous studies, the effects of clumping and woody area were found to be partly compensatory. On average, PAIe provided a reasonable approximation of LAI without correction, though overestimation of 52% and underestimation of 20% occurred at the lowest and highest LAI values, respectively. Compared to WAIe and WAI measurement using leaf-off visible DHP, near-infrared DHP offers two crucial advantages: i) data collection can be conducted at the same time as leaf-on PAIe and PAI measurements, and ii) it is likely that the approach could provide an indirect WAIe and WAI measurement option for evergreen species.