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Fire Lab tree list: A tree-level model of the western US circa 2009 v1

Publication Year: 
2018
Author: Riley, Karin L.; Grenfell, Isaac C.; Finney, Mark A.; Wiener, Jason M.

Maps of the number, size, and species of trees in forests across the western United States are desirable for many applications such as estimating terrestrial carbon resources, predicting tree mortality following wildfires, and for forest inventory. However, detailed mapping of trees for large areas is not feasible with current technologies, but statistical methods for matching the forest plot data with biophysical characteristics of the landscape offer a practical means to populate landscapes with a limited set of forest plot inventory data. We used a modified random forests approach with Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE) vegetation and biophysical predictors as the target data, to which we imputed plot data collected by the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) to the landscape at 30-meter (m) grid resolution (Riley et al. 2016). This method imputes the plot with the best statistical match, according to a “forest” of decision trees, to each pixel of gridded landscape data. In this work, we used the LANDFIRE data set as the gridded target data because it is publicly available, offers seamless coverage of variables needed for fire models, and is consistent with other data sets, including burn probabilities and flame length probabilities generated for the continental United States. The main output of this project (the GeoTIFF available in this data publication) is a map of imputed plot identifiers at 30×30 m spatial resolution for the western United States for landscape conditions circa 2009. The map of plot identifiers can be linked to the FIA databases available through the FIA DataMart or to the ACCDB/CSV files included in this data publication to produce tree-level maps or to map other plot attributes. These ACCDB/CSV files also contain attributes regarding the FIA PLOT CN (a unique identifier for each time a plot is measured), the inventory year, the state code and abbreviation, the unit code, the county code, the plot number, the subplot number, the tree record number, and for each tree: the status (live or dead), species, diameter, height, actual height (where broken), crown ratio, number of trees per acre, and a unique identifier for each tree and tree visit. Application of the dataset to research questions other than those related to aboveground biomass and carbon should be investigated by the researcher before proceeding. The dataset may be suitable for other applications and for use across various scales (stand, landscape, and region), however, the researcher should test the dataset's applicability to a particular research question before proceeding.