Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (9): 1021-1031.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019166

• Review • Previous Article     Next Article

Advances in LiDAR technology in the field of animal ecology

Shun Li, Liang Zou, Yinan Gong, Haitao Yang, Tianming Wang, Limin Feng, Jianping Ge()   

  1. Aumer Tiger and Leopard Biodiversity National Observation and Research Station, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, National Forestry and Grassland Administration Key Laboratory for Conservation Ecology of Amur Tiger and Amur Leopard National Park, National Forestry and Grassland Administration Amur Tiger and Amur Leopard Monitoring and Research Center, College of Life Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875
  • Received:2019-05-16 Accepted:2019-08-10 Online:2019-09-25
  • Jianping Ge

LiDAR (light detection and ranging), a fairly new active remote sensing technology, is being widely used in the field of animal ecology by more and more scholars due to the recent development where forest parameters can be extracted and inverted from LiDAR. In this paper, we review the advances in forest parameter extraction from LiDAR and its many applications in studying wildlife habitat. We also analyze current research on forest parameter inversion algorithms based on LiDAR, mainly in forestry research, though we lack quantitative parameters related to the ecological significance of animals. Because few studies have applied LiDAR technology to animal ecology research in China, we consider foreign research in this field in three categories: (1) The relationship between species habitat selection and three-dimensional forest structure; (2) Three-dimensional habitat mapping; (3) Biodiversity assessment and species distribution model prediction. Compared with traditional methods, the high-precision three-dimensional structure information provided by LiDAR can significantly improve the efficacy of monitoring animal habitat quality and biodiversity and the modelling accuracy of species distribution models. These advancements contribute to deeper understanding of species habitat selection and the clustering process mechanism. However, the studies that utilize LiDAR to date have mainly focused on previously known ecological relationships, especially the relationship between canopy structure and species diversity. These studies fail to account for either forest understory habitat quality or biodiversity monitoring and evaluation. In short, the relationship between wildlife and its three-dimensional habitat needs to be further explored through analysis of LiDAR data. Future studies should focus on extracting three-dimensional structures of forest understories to improve the efficacy of monitoring habitat quality and biodiversity in the understory, and to provide standard quantitative indicators for the evaluation of animal ecology.

Key words: remote sensing, animal habitat monitoring, species distribution, biodiversity

Table 1

The main softwares for LiDAR data processing of both domestic and overseas"

软件 Software 类型 Type 主要应用及特点 Application and characteristics
TerraSolid 商业软件
Commercial software
目前国内外航测部门广泛采用的软件, 用于点云、影像处理。A widely used software in aerial survey department at present, used for point cloud and image data processing.
Commercial software
可以自动提取DEM/DSM/建筑物/植被等三维模型, 提取的信息可在其他平台(如ENVI、ArcGIS、Google Earth)进一步使用和分析, 提供二次开发接口。Automatically extracted 3D models such as DEM/DSM/buildings/vegetation, the extracted data can be further used and analyzed on other platforms (such as ENVI, ArcGIS and Google Earth), and provide secondary development interface.
Global Mapper
LiDAR Module
Commercial software
集成了一系列全面的点云处理工具和数据访问接口, 包括点云生成、自动分类及要素提取。Integrated a series of comprehensive point cloud processing tools and data access interface, including point cloud generation, automatic classification and element extraction.
Lastools 商业软件
Commercial software
提供高效点云处理算法的库, 支持点云格式转换、点云处理等常见的算法功能。Providing efficient point cloud processing algorithm library, and supporting the functions of point cloud format conversion, point cloud processing and other common algorithm.
Cloud Compare 开源软件
Open source software
提供了一些基本工具用于手动编辑和呈现3D点云数据及各种处理算法, 用于实现点云距离计算、空间统计分析、点云分割和几何特征估算。Providing some basic tools for manually editing and rendering 3D point cloud data and various processing algorithms, which are used to realize point cloud distance calculation, spatial statistical analysis, point cloud segmentation and geometric feature estimation.
Fusion 开源软件
Open source software
适合于林学和生态学研究, 可以提取多种点云获取的林业参数信息。Suitable for the study of forestry and ecology, and can extract the information of forestry parameters obtained from various point clouds.
RiALITY 商业软件
Commercial software
可在iPad上运行激光雷达数据可视化功能, 支持真彩色三维点云和导航功能。It can run LiDAR data visualization on the iPad, supporting true color 3D point cloud and navigation.
LP360 商业软件
Commercial software
桌面软件, 可以独立或在ArcGIS环境中实现, 提供不同解决方案, 从快速可视化到一些扩展线产品, 包括地面点云自动分类和信息提取。Desktop software, which can be implemented independently or in ArcGIS environment, providing different solutions, from rapid visualization to some extension line products, including ground point cloud automatic classification and information extraction.
FME 商业软件
Commercial software
由加拿大Safe Software公司研发, 最大特点是支持超过300多种空间数据格式及相互转换, 包括点云数据。Developed by Company of Safe Software, Canada, supporting for more than 300 spatial data formats and conversions, including point cloud data.
LiDAR 360 商业软件
Commercial software
由国内数字绿土公司研发, 有针对城市规划、林业、电力等不同行业应用需求的信息提取和模块分析, 尤其是针对林业应用的单木分割算法, 能够进行点云数据信息挖掘和超大数据处理功能。Developed by Green Valley Company in China, focusing on information extraction and analysis module for urban planning, forestry and electric power application, especially for forestry application of tree segmentation algorithm, with point cloud data mining and data processing functions.

Table 2

Comparison of the main algorithms of single tree segmentation"

Tree species
Accuracy of segmentation
区域增长 Region growing Hyyppa et al, 2001 针叶林 Coniferous forest -
“注水”算法 Pouring algorithm Koch et al, 2006 针叶林、阔叶林
Coniferous forest and broad-leaved forest
标记分水岭 Marked watershed Chen et al, 2006 阔叶林 Broad-leaved forest 64%
K均值聚类 K-means clustering Morsdorf et al, 2004 针叶林 Coniferous forest 61%
Graph theory normalized segmentation
Reitberger et al, 2009 针叶林、阔叶林
Coniferous forests and broad-leaved forest
Based on the combination of regional growth and threshold judgment
Li et al, 2012 针阔混交林 Theropencedrymion 94%
相对最短路径 Relative shortest path Tao et al, 2015 针叶林、阔叶林
Coniferous forest and broad-leaved forest

Fig. 1

Results of individual tree segmentation in plot scale by the relative shortest path algorithm based on terrestrial laser scanner. (a) Top view; (b) Front view. Platform: TLS; Captured time: 2017; Location: Eastern of National Park for Amur Tiger and Leopard"

Table 3

Forest parameters extracted by LiDAR for wildlife habitat application studies"

Forest parameters
Parametric description
Relationship with wildlife habitat
参考文献 Reference
Canopy cover
指森林中乔木树冠在阳光直射下在地面的总投影面积(冠幅)与此林地(林分)总面积的比, 反映林分的密度。The ratio of the total projected area (canopy width) of the canopy on the ground under direct sunlight to the total area of the forest (forest stand), which reflects the density of the forest stand. 大部分研究表明, 鸟类与蝙蝠类的活动与郁闭度高度相关; 有蹄类动物的季节选择与郁闭度相关。Most studies show that the activities of birds and bats are highly correlated with canopy density. Seasonal selection of ungulates is related to canopy cover. Garabedian et al, 2014; Lone et al, 2014; Ewald et al, 2014; Melin et al, 2016b; Blakey et al, 2017
Canopy height
是森林垂直生境结构的重要参数, 反映的是森林冠层距离地面的平均高度。An important parameter of forest vertical habitat structure, which reflects the average height of forest canopy from the ground. 已有一些具有气候依赖性的鸟类在不同季节和不同气候条件下栖息的冠层高度不同; 鸟类和蝙蝠类动物的活动和占域在不同冠层高度上也呈现异质性。Some climate-dependent birds have different canopy heights in different seasons and climate. The activities and habitats of birds and bats are also present heterogeneous at different canopy heights. Bradbury et al, 2005; Goetz et al, 2010; Garabedian et al, 2017; Blakey et al, 2017
Canopy vertical distribution
冠层部分在不同高度层枝叶的结构和密度分布情况。The structure and density distribution of canopy in different height layers. 目前研究表明, 灵长类动物个体生境利用与冠层垂直分布相关。Current studies have shown that habitat use of individual primate is related to vertical canopy distribution. Palminteri et al, 2012; Davies et al, 2019
单位面积内树冠以下部分枝叶和灌草的分布密集程度。Distribution density of branches, leaves and shrubs in the understory within the unit area. 林下层密度关系到林下哺乳动物食物资源丰富度, 同时影响动物休息、捕猎和产仔等其他行为选择。The density of understory is related to the abundance of food resources of understory mammals, and also affects other behavioral choices such as resting, hunting and breeding. Loarie et al, 2013; Davies et al, 2016; Melin et al, 2016a
植被在二维平面上的结构状况, 包括郁闭度和灌草层覆盖度等。The structure of vegetation on the two-dimensional plane includes canopy cover and cover of shrub and herb. 多数研究表明, 植被水平结构的多样性与动物物种多样性具有正相关关系。Most studies show that the diversity of horizontal structure of vegetation is positively correlated with the diversity of animal species. Flaspohler et al, 2010
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