Methodological considerations of terrestrial laser scanning for vegetation monitoring in the sagebrush steppe

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This study informs researchers and practitioners seeking to optimize terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) sampling methods for vegetation monitoring in dryland ecosystems through three analyses. First, we quantify the 2D extent of occluded regions based on the range from single scan positions. Second, we measure the efficacy of additional scan positions on the reduction of 2D occluded regions (area) using progressive configurations of scan positions in 1 ha plots. Third, we test the reproducibility of 3D sampling yielded by a 5-scan/ha sampling methodology using redundant sets of scans. Analyses were performed using measurements at analysis scales of 5 to 50 cm across the 1-ha plots, and we considered plots in grass and shrub-dominated communities separately.