Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Carl Seielstad

Commitee Members

LLoyd Queen, Ragan Callaway


biomass removal, chamise, fire behavior inputs, fuel bed model, LiDAR, voxel array, sagebrush, volumetric model


University of Montana


The purpose of this study was to spatially represent shrub fuel matrices accurately and at fine resolution for use in physics-based fire behavior simulations. Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (T-LiDAR) was used to measure shrub fuel beds in laboratory settings before and after fire burned through them. The primary goals of this research were to produce highly descriptive data-sets that correctly identified the locations of biomass within 3-D space without destructive sampling, and to derive attributes for fuel elements within the shrubs. This research was completed in two phases. First, a series of experiments was conducted to test the capacity of a commercially available LiDAR instrument for making detailed measurements of diffuse shrubs. Second, model shrub fuel beds were produced and evaluated for accuracy. The research tested the T-LiDAR’s ability to characterize physical traits of shrubs within volumes, identified issues associated with misrepresenting the true geometry of scanned samples, developed sampling protocols for scanning shrubs prior to and following combustion experimentation, and built descriptive models of actual shrubs. The findings of this study show that T-LiDAR can be used effectively to estimate volume, structure, and biomass for individual shrubs. T-LiDAR derived models were shown to accurately predict mass of scanned shrubs (Adj. R2: 0.598, P-Value: 0.0012). The models produced show vast improvements from past estimations of physiological characteristics in fuels and fire behavior.



© Copyright 2014 Theodore Adams