Use of sonic tomography to detect and quantify wood decay in living trees

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PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Field methodology and image analysis protocols using acoustic tomography were developed and evaluated as a tool to estimate the amount of internal decay and damage of living trees, with special attention to tropical rainforest trees with irregular trunk shapes. METHODS AND RESULTS: Living trunks of a diversity of tree species in tropical rainforests in the Republic of Panama were scanned using an Argus Electronic PiCUS 3 Sonic Tomograph and evaluated for the amount and patterns of internal decay. A protocol using ImageJ analysis software was used to quantify the proportions of intact and compromised wood. The protocols provide replicable estimates of internal decay and cavities for trees of varying shapes, wood density, and bark thickness. CONCLUSIONS: Sonic tomography, coupled with image analysis, provides an efficient, noninvasive approach to evaluate decay patterns and structural integrity of even irregularly shaped living trees.

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Applications in plant sciences

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