A comparison of artificial neural networks and regression modeling techniques for predicting dominant heights of Oriental spruce in a mixed stand

Ercanli I., Bolat F., YAVUZ H.

Forest Systems, vol.32, no.1, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.5424/fs/2023321-19134
  • Journal Name: Forest Systems
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, DIALNET
  • Keywords: biological interpretation, dominant height, dummy variable, growth curve, machine learning, mixed-effects
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Aim of study: This paper introduces comparative evaluations of artificial neural network models and regression modeling techniques based on some fitting statistics and desirable characteristics for predicting dominant height. Area of study: The data of this study were obtained from Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis L.) felled trees in even-aged and mixed Oriental spruce and Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stands in the northeast of Türkiye. Materials and methods: A total of 873 height-age pairs were obtained from Oriental spruce trees in a mixed forest stand. Nonlinear mixed-effects models (NLMEs), autoregressive models (ARM), dummy variable method (DVM), and artificial neural networks (ANNs) were compared to predict dominant height growth. Main results: The best predictive model was NLME with a single random parameter (root mean square error, RMSE: 0.68 m). The results showed that NLMEs outperformed ARM (RMSE: 1.09 m), DVM in conjunction with ARM (RMSE: 1.09 m), and ANNs (RMSE: from 1.11 to 2.40 m) in the majority of the cases. Whereas considering variations among obser-vations by random parameter(s) significantly improved predictions of dominant height, considering correlated error terms by autoregressive correlation parameter(s) enhanced slightly the predictions. ANNs generally underperformed compared to NLMEs, ARM, and DVM with ARM. Research highlights: All regression techniques fulfilled the desirable characteristics such as sigmoidal pattern, polymor-phism, multiple asymptotes, base-age invariance, and inflection point. However, ANNs could not replicate most of these features, excluding the sigmoidal pattern. Accordingly, ANNs seem insufficient to assure biological growth assumptions regarding dominant height growth.