The effect of tropical land-use changes on vegetation structure in Sumatra, as measured with mobile LiDAR

Sumatra is considered a biodiversity hotspot, which has experienced significant tropical land use change in recent decades leading to a loss of biodiversity (Ashton-Butt et al., 2019). An important factor driving species distribution and diversity is the vegetation structure (Heidenreich & Seidel, 2022). To study vegetation structure, LiDAR technology can be used as it provides information about the 3D structure of the ecosystem (Ehbrecht et al., 2016; Heidenreich & Seidel, 2022). Therefore for this project, mobile LiDAR data collected from 4 different land use types (natural forests, shrubland, oil palm plantations, and rubber plantations) will be analysed to assess the effect of tropical land use change on vegetation structure and understand its impact on biodiversity.

These research questions will be addressed:

  • What is the current state of vegetation structure in Sumatra, and how does it vary across different land-use types?
  • Can we use LiDAR data to predict biodiversity? How does vegetation structure impact species diversity and distribution?

Fabian Brambach and Dominik Seidel supervise this master's thesis.

  1. Ashton-Butt A, Willcock S, Purnomo D, Suhardi Aryawan AAK, Wahyuningsih R, Naim M, Poppy GM, Caliman JP, Peh KSH, Snaddon JL (2019) Replanting of first-cycle oil palm results in a second wave of biodiversity loss. Ecology and Evolution 9(11): 6433–6443
  2. Ehbrecht M, Schall P, Juchheim J, Ammer C, Seidel D (2016) Effective number of layers: A new measure for quantifying three-dimensional stand structure based on sampling with terrestrial LiDAR. Forest Ecology and Management 380: 212–223
  3. Heidenreich MG, Seidel D (2022) Assessing Forest Vitality and Forest Structure Using 3D Data: A Case Study From the Hainich National Park, Germany. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 5