New paper: using the Robel Pole to estimate above ground biomass

Friday, December 27, 2013

Photo of the Robel pole being used in a wetland to measure above ground biomassA new note published in the journal Wetlands details a rapid assessment method we (Dustin Raab, Suzanne Bayley, and Rebecca Rooney) developed to estimate above ground biomass, using a sort of barbershop pole with red and white horizontal stripes.  Named after the rangelands researcher who first used it, the Robel pole uses visual obstruction as a proxy measure of vegetation biomass.  It been used by waterfowl researchers to measure how well hidden duck nests are, but it had never before been successfully applied in wetlands to estimate above ground biomass as part of a vegetation-based index of biotic integrity.  Previous efforts in more southern climates found poor agreement between above ground biomass measured via clipping and the Robel pole methods. In contrast, we found very good agreement (R2 = 0.68, F 1.94 = 195.5, p < 0.000001). We hypothesize that packing-down of standing dead litter by winter snows is responsible for the greater agreement in more northern climates.  Read more here

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