A couple of days ago the team moved the Vegnet In-Situ Monitoring LiDAR (IML) to the Spyglass Beef research station out of Charters Towers. We've been running this instrument for a couple of years in Brisbane Forest Park (BFP) to monitor the dynamics of plant area Index, structure and phenology of the eucalypt canopy up there.
At BFP, after a year or so we captured enough data to build plots like these which show the changes in plant area and vegetation density over time in response to climate and seasonal conditions.
By moving it to Spyglass, a world class research facility and part of the GEOGLAM-RAPP network we hope to better understand the canopy dynamics in this highly variable and productive savanna grazing system.
The system works by blasting the trees with laser beams every night and recording the number of hits. The system is self contained and solar powered so it only needs downloading every couple of months.
At the same time, we installed two time lapse cameras. These look in and out of the exclosure where the vegnet is located and take photos every 10 minutes. We'll use these to look at the grassland response to rainfall, the change in grass height over time, and the mechanisms of senescence and detachment to better parameterize models of grassland behaviour.
For more details on Vegnet, have a look at the following paper:
Portillo-Quintero, C.; Sanchez-Azofeifa, A.; Culvenor, D. Using VEGNET In-Situ Monitoring LiDAR (IML) to Capture Dynamics of Plant Area Index, Structure and Phenology in Aspen Parkland Forests in Alberta, Canada. Forests 2014, 5, 1053-1068.