Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    In the southern Appalachians, the distribution and growth of trees are highly correlated with local topography, but the relationships have been ditficult to describe quantitatively. A quantitative expression of the geometric shape of the land surface (terrain shape index) is described and correlated with oventory tree heights and site quality. Application of the index in three even-aged stands of yellow-popular (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) on high-quality uniform sites shows that it is highly correlated with total height of trees in a stand, with 9 ranging from 0.45 to 0.74. In comparisons among stands, the index accounted for an average of 51% of the variation in site index. The relationship was validated in two supplementary stands and accounted for about 49% of variation in site index. The terrain shape index was more accurate in predicting tree height than was lateral shape class, a subjective measure of slope shape occasionally used in soil-site studies.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    McNab, W. Henry. 1989. Terrain shape index: quantifying effect of minor landforms on tree height. Forest Science, Vol. 35(1): 91-104

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page