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Neural Networks for the Prediction of Species-Specific Plot Volumes Using Airborne Laser Scanning and Aerial Photographs

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6 Author(s)
Harri Niska ; Research Group of Environmental Informatics, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland ; Jukka-Pekka Skon ; Petteri Packalen ; Timo Tokola
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Parametric and nonparametric modeling methods have been widely used for the estimation of forest attributes from airborne laser-scanning data and aerial photographs. However, the methods adopted suffered from complex remote-sensed data structures involving high dimensions, nonlinear relationships, different statistical distributions, and outliers. In this context, artificial neural networks (ANNs) are of interest as they have many clear benefits over conventional modeling methods and could then enhance the accuracy of current forest-inventory methods. This paper examines the ability of common ANN modeling techniques for the prediction of species-specific forest attributes, as exemplified here with the prediction stem volumes (cubic meters per hectare) at the field plot and forest stand levels. Three modeling methods were evaluated, namely, the multilayer perceptron (MLP), support vector regression (SVR), and self-organizing map, and intercompared with the corresponding nonparametric k most similar neighbor method using cross-validated statistical performance indexes. To decrease the number of model-input variables, a multiobjective input-selection method based on genetic algorithm is adopted. The numerical results obtained in the study suggest that ANNs are appropriate and accurate methods for the assessment of species-specific forest attributes, which can be used as alternatives to multivariate linear regression and nonparametric nearest neighbor models. Among the ANN models, SVR and MLP provide the best choices for prediction purposes as they yielded high prediction accuracies for species-specific tree volumes throughout.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 3 )