volume: 43, issue:
An accurate tree diameter (DBH) measurement is a significant component of forest inventory. This study assessed the reliability of remote dendrometers to measure tree DBH. We compared direct caliper measurements (reference measurements) to the remote measurements collected from a laser caliper and a smartphone at 0.5 m, 1 m, and 1.5 m distances from each tree within three forest types (pine, oak, and poplar forests). In general, all remote dendrometers underestimated the mean diameter compared to direct caliper measurements, regardless of forest types and distances. We observed that the mean deviation of direct caliper measurement and smartphone measurement at 1.5 m within a pine forest and oak forest were the lowest (0.3 cm and 0.36 cm, respectively). The deviations between direct caliper measurements and smartphone measurements at a 0.5 m distance, across forest types, were noticeably larger compared to others. An ANOVA test was used to determine whether significant deviations existed between caliper measurements and remote measurements at a specific distance, and among three different forest types. We rejected the null hypothesis, which suggested that there were no statistically significant differences (p<0.05) between tree DBH measurements obtained from the direct caliper measurements and indirect measurements (smartphone and laser caliper) captured at a distance. Then, a post-hoc test was performed to examine which set of estimated deviations was different from the reference data. The results suggested that indirect tree DBH measurements using the smartphone app at 1 m and 1.5 m in certain forest types (pine and oak) were not significantly different from direct tree DBH measurements. Also, our test results mostly indicated no significant difference within each forest, except for measurements using the smartphone app at 0.5 m across all forest types when the smartphone measurements were compared to laser caliper measurements. Although forest characteristics and measurement distance may play an important role in remote tree DBH measurement accuracy, the smartphone app may be used as a practical alternative to direct measurement in measuring the DBH of a tree, which may be a positive development for forestry due to the increased use of smartphones and the availability of a free measure app.