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Community Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 56–62 | Cite as

Comparing the accuracy of three non-destructive methods in estimating aboveground plant biomass

  • G. ÓnodiEmail author
  • Gy. Kröel-Dulay
  • E. Kovács-Láng
  • P. Ódor
  • Z. Botta-Dukat
  • B. Lhotsky
  • S. Barabás
  • J. Garadnai
  • M. Kertész
Open Access
Article

Abstract

Aboveground plant biomass is one of the most important features of ecosystems, and it is widely used in ecosystem research. Non-destructive biomass estimation methods provide an important toolkit, because the destructive harvesting method is in many cases not feasible. However, only few studies have compared the accuracy of these methods in grassland communities to date. We studied the accuracy of three widely used methods for estimation of aboveground biomass: the visual cover estimation method, the point intercept method, and field spectroscopy. We applied them in three independent series of field samplings in semi-arid sand grasslands in Central Hungary. For each sampling method, we applied linear regression to assess the strength of the relationship between biomass proxies and actual aboveground biomass, and used coefficient of determination to evaluate accuracy. We found no evidence that the visual cover estimation, which is generally considered as a subjective method, was less accurate than point intercept method or field spectroscopy in estimating biomass. Based on our three datasets, we found that accuracy was lower for the point intercept method compared to the other two methods, while field spectroscopy and visual cover estimation were similar to each other in the semi-arid sand grassland community. We conclude that visual cover estimation can be as accurate for estimating aboveground biomass as other approaches, thus the choice amongst the methods should be based on additional pros and cons associated with each of the method and related to the specific research objective.

Keywords

Biomass proxies Coefficient of determination Field experiment Field spectroscopy Point intercept method Semi-arid grassland Visual cover estimation 

Abbreviations

ANPP

Aboveground Net Primary Productivity

NDVI

Normalized Differential Vegetation Index

Nomenclature

The Plant List (2010) 

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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Ónodi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gy. Kröel-Dulay
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Kovács-Láng
    • 1
  • P. Ódor
    • 1
  • Z. Botta-Dukat
    • 1
  • B. Lhotsky
    • 1
  • S. Barabás
    • 3
  • J. Garadnai
    • 1
  • M. Kertész
    • 1
  1. 1.MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchInstitute of Ecology and BotanyVácrátótHungary
  2. 2.MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchGINOP Sustainable Ecosystems GroupTihanyHungary
  3. 3.Corvinus University of Budapest, Department of BotanyBudapestHungary

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