Evaluation of potential modeling approaches for Scots pine stem diameter prediction in north-eastern Turkey

Ozcelik R., Diamantopoulou M. J. , Trincado G.

COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS IN AGRICULTURE, vol.162, pp.773-782, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Critical forest management decisions are strongly supported by the knowledge of forest ecosystems and their features. There is a growing trend towards using models to predict the most accurate yield projections for forest management. In this research area, features of standing trees, such as diameters along the tree bole, are of much interest. This paper is focused on the construction and evaluation of potential modeling approaches for Scots pine stem diameter prediction in north-eastern Turkey, including (1) fixed-effects, (2) mixed-effects, (3) three and five quantile regression, and (4) an artificial neural network modeling techniques. Nonlinear fixed-effects, mixed-effects, and both quantile regression models were based on a variable exponent taper equation, while the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm was investigated for the artificial neural network (LMANN) models construction. Parameters of the tested models were calibrated by the use of several stem diameter measurements obtained at relative height positions, with models' superior performances in diameter predictions when the information of the additional diameter measured at 60% of total height, was included. Evaluation statistics show that both quantile regression and mixed-effects models improved results as compared to fixed-effects model. Overall, LMANN models achieved the best performance with higher accuracy for the Scots pine stem diameter prediction for the whole tree as well as for sections within the tree based on the ten relative height classes. Similarly to previous findings, the results of this study support that the use of mixed-effects modeling increases flexibility and efficiency of taper equations for stem diameter prediction. Moreover, the LMANN modeling approach was evaluated as superior according to its adequacy in predicting diameters along the tree stem. Therefore, the usage of the LMANNs for the tree stem diameter prediction can be a very useful tool in forest management practice and thus worth consideration.