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Allometric equations developed for the underrepresented shrubs of Alberta’s peatlands

Allometric equations are commonly used to estimate biomass to reduce the amount of destructive sampling (also known as the killing of plants). Allometric equations use one or more plant dimension (e.g. stem diameter, tree height, etc.) to estimate a separate dimension that is more difficult to measure in the field (e.g. biomass).

Our recently published paper in MDPI’s Forests expands on the important findings discovered in our study where we developed allometric equations for estimating shrub biomass in a boreal fen. These frequently asked questions help to explain this research is important.

Why do we want to estimate biomass?

Biomass is defined as the total weight of organic matter in a unit area, this includes the weight above and blow ground such as trees, shrubs, vines and roots. Biomass estimates provide information on the local carbon stock, water table position, and methane flux. Biomass can also be used as visual indicators of any underlying changes occurring in an ecosystem.

Why do people use allometric equations for biomass estimation?

Allometric equations are an alternative to destructive sampling, as direct measurement is expensive and time consuming. Direct measurements of biomass are limited to small areas whereas once allometric equations are developed, they can be used quickly and nondestructively for stand biomass inventories (Lu et al., 2016).

Aren’t there already enough allometric studies published?

There are many allometric studies that have been published, however, very few equations exist for peatland-shrub genera. We developed allometric equations for three dominant shrub genera found in a typical fen site. Our study is also unique because we were successfully able to use one generalized equation to estimate the biomass of all three shrub genera.

Here's Annie with an armful of shrubs!

References:

He, A., G. McDermid, G., Rahman, M., Strack, M., Saraswati, S., & Xu, B. (2018). Developing allometric equations for estimating shrub biomass in a boreal fen. Forests, 9, 569.

Lu, D., Chen, Q., Wang, G., Liu, L., Li, G., & Moran, E. (2016). A survey of remote sensing-based aboveground biomass estimation methods in forest ecosystems. International Journal of Digital Earth, 9(1), 63-105.