Assessing Lidar-Based Forest Structure Change of Ground Beetle Habitat Association within the Rocky Mountain National Park Neon Site




Pugh, Garrett

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My research focuses on the application of lidar derived metrics and change in forest structure as habitat variables for three species of ground beetle (Calathus advena, Pterostichus restrictus, and Pterostichus protractus) found in the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) NEON site. Temporal analysis of forest structure using lidar-derived metrics is an infrequently studied topic due to the cost of acquiring lidar data. Fortunately, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) provides freely available lidar data collected over several years which facilitates lidar-based change detection. The changes in forest structure being identified using lidar derived metrics to quantify portions of the forest structure as habitat variables. Calathus advena and Pterostichus restrictus appear to associate with forest structures that can be represented by Gap Fraction and mean canopy height, but Pterostichus protractus did not associate with any forest structure represented by the lidar metrics calculated in this study. Further, I found that there was no significant change in beetle population attributable to the temporal change in forest structure. Based on limitations of the lidar metrics, it is possible that there was not enough change in forest structure to influence a change in ground beetle presence from year to year. Additionally, the generalizing nature of the lidar metrics calculated in this study may have reduced any meaningful representation of forest structure. It is also possible that the species included in this study are not readily influenced by minor changes in forest structure.



Calathus advena, Pterostichus restrictus, Pterostichus protractus, habitat association of ground beetles, NEON, lidar metric habitat variable


Pugh, G. (2024). Assessing lidar-based forest structure change of ground beetle habitat association within the Rocky Mountain National Park neon site (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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