a1 IRET, BP 13354, Libreville, Gabon
a2 Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences de l'Université des Sciences et Technique de Masuku, BP 901, Franceville, Gabon
a3 CIRAD, Campus de Baillarguet, TA C-37D, 34398 Montpellier cedex 5, France
Many tropical tree species have buttresses at the standard breast height (1.3 m above ground) of diameter measurement, with a presumable role in improving nutrient acquisition or tree anchorage in the ground (Newbery et al. 2009, Richter 1984). Measuring the diameter using standard dendrometrical tools such as callipers or graduated tapes, which require that the cross-section of the trunk has a convex shape, is then impossible (Nogueira et al. 2006). The recommended method in this case is to measure the diameter above the buttress (DAB), thus possibly leading to biased estimates of the basal area (West 2009), of tree above-ground biomass (Dean & Roxburgh 2006, Dean et al. 2003) and of tree growth (Metcalf et al. 2009). As an alternative, one can measure the basal area at breast height of buttressed trees, using a method that can deal with the irregular non-convex shape of the cross-section of the stem such as the Picus calliper, photogrammetry or 3D laser scanning (Badia et al. 2003, Dean 2003, Newbery et al. 2009).
(Accepted February 11 2012)