Classifying ecosystems with metaproperties from terrestrial laser scanner data


In this study, we introduce metaproperty analysis of terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) data, and demonstrate its application through several ecological classification problems. Metaproperty analysis considers pulse level and spatial metrics derived from the hundreds of thousands to millions of lidar pulses present in a single scan from a typical contemporary instrument. In such large aggregations, properties of the populations of lidar data reflect attributes of the underlying ecological conditions of the ecosystems. In this study, we provide the Metaproperty Classification Model to employ TLS metaproperty analysis for classification problems in ecology. We applied this to a proof‐of‐concept study, which classified 88 scans from rooms and forests with 100% accuracy, to serve as a template. We then applied the Metaproperty Classification Model in earnest, to separate scans from temperate and tropical forests with 97.09% accuracy (N = 224), and to classify scans from inland and coastal tropical rainforests with 84.07% accuracy (N = 270). The results demonstrate the potential for metaproperty analysis to identify subtle and important ecosystem conditions, including diseases and anthropogenic disturbances. Metaproperty analysis serves as an augmentation to contemporary object reconstruction applications of TLS in ecology, and can characterize regional heterogeneity.

Methods in Ecology and Evolution