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Theses

Diversité structurale des forêts denses humides de la Province Nord de Nouvelle Calédonie : de l'arbre au paysage

Abstract : In the course of global change, new practices of sustainable management in tropical rainforests that maintain key environmental services (e.g., biodiversity, carbon sequestration) and produce goods on which local communities rely is needed. The measurement, spatialization and understanding of the drivers of rainforest structure at large scale is challenging for managing sustainably forest resources. Rainforests of New Caledonia, a biodiversity hotspot located in the South-West Pacific, are a well-suited study model to explore the drivers of rainforest structure. Indeed, New Caledonian rainforests are distributed along a mountain chain, which creates strong environmental gradients overlaid by a range of natural and anthropogenic disturbance gradients. The aims of this thesis are (i) to define some structural features of New Caledonian rainforests, (ii) to map rainforests and to predict their structure at large scale, and (iii) to quantify the influence of the environment and the forest dynamics on rainforest structure. To this end, 23 one hectare forest inventories were set up in the North Province of New Caledonia. In these plots, elevation ranged between 250 and 900 m and annual rainfall between 1500 and 3000 mm. In addition to characterize locally rainforest structure, these plots were used to calibrate a predictive model based on a textural analysis of the canopy, using the FOTO (FOurier transform Textural Ordination) method, which was applied to eight very high resolution images from a Pléiades satellite (covering 1295 km2). Such a model able to relate texture and structure is based on the hypothesis that the allometric relationship between the DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) and the crown size of a canopy tree is stable. We tested this hypothesis tropics-wide. Our results show that New Caledonian rainforests are dense (1182 ± 233 tree/ha), with a high basal area (44 ± 11 m2/ha), a relatively low canopy (14 ± 3 m) and an above-ground biomass typical of tropical rainforests (299 ± 83 t/ha). These forests are also characterized by a high structural variability. This variability has the same range when influenced by environmental gradients as when influenced by forest succession gradients. The FOTO method applied to Pléiades images allowed to predict and spatialize key structural parameters (like the stem density or the above-ground biomass of rainforests) from robust correlations with the textural indices of the canopy (R² ≥ 0,6; RMSE ≤ 20%). The structure of New Caledonian rainforest is mainly driven by the potential insolation and the elevation at the scale of mountain massifs, and by the slope and the topographic wetness at the scale of a mountainside. These findings will enable to estimate rainforest resources across the territory and to define a new typology of New Caledonian rainforests taking into account their structural variability.
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Elodie Blanchard. Diversité structurale des forêts denses humides de la Province Nord de Nouvelle Calédonie : de l'arbre au paysage. Biologie végétale. Université Montpellier, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016MONTT116⟩. ⟨tel-01531458v2⟩

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