Defining sample size and sampling strategy for dendrogeomorphic rockfall reconstructions

Abstract : Optimized sampling strategies have been recently proposed for dendrogeomorphic reconstructions of mass movements with a large spatial footprint, such as landslides, snow avalanches, and debris flows. Such guidelines have, by contrast, been largely missing for rockfalls and cannot be transposed owing to the sporadic nature of this process and the occurrence of individual rocks and boulders. Based on a data set of 314 European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) trees (i.e., 64 trees/ha), growing on an active rockfall slope, this study bridges this gap and proposes an optimized sampling strategy for the spatial and temporal reconstruction of rockfall activity. Using random extractions of trees, iterative mapping, and a stratified sampling strategy based on an arbitrary selection of trees, we investigate subsets of the full tree-ring data set to define optimal sample size and sampling design for the development of frequency maps of rockfall activity. Spatially, our results demonstrate that the sampling of only 6 representative trees per ha can be sufficient to yield a reasonable mapping of the spatial distribution of rockfall frequencies on a slope, especially if the oldest and most heavily affected individuals are included in the analysis. At the same time, however, sampling such a low number of trees risks causing significant errors especially if nonrepresentative trees are chosen for analysis. An increased number of samples therefore improves the quality of the frequency maps in this case. Temporally, we demonstrate that at least 40 trees/ha are needed to obtain reliable rockfall chronologies. These results will facilitate the design of future studies, decrease the cost–benefit ratio of dendrogeomorphic studies and thus will permit production of reliable reconstructions with reasonable temporal efforts.
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Submitted on : Saturday, March 14, 2015 - 9:26:40 PM
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Pauline Morel, Daniel Trappmann, Christophe Corona, Markus Stoffel. Defining sample size and sampling strategy for dendrogeomorphic rockfall reconstructions. Geomorphology, Elsevier, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.02.017. ⟨10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.02.017⟩. ⟨hal-01131632⟩



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