Software for Computing Plant Biomass (BIOPAK)


BIOPAK (Means, et al. 1994) is a menu-driven package of computer programs for personal computers that calculated the biomass, area, height, length, or volume of plant components (leaves, branches, stem, crown, and roots) and biomass by fuels size classes using existing prediction equations. Most of the 1150 equations in the equation library available as part of BIOPAK were developed in the Pacific Northwest, including southeast Alaska. A few are from the northern Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. BIOPAK produced reports that were formatted for people and files that were compatible with other software. Other reports document the design of a computation run and the equations used.

Means, Joseph E., Heather A. Hansen, Greg J. Koerper, Paul B. Alaback, Mark W. Klopsch. 1994. Software for computing plant biomass--BIOPAK users guide. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-340. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 180 p. (Pub Number 1659)

Means et al. (1996) describe the use of BIOPAK for estimating fuels of live shrubs and herbs in standard fuels size classes. A newer equation library contains about 300 equations for estimating fuels for species of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains.

Means, Joseph E., Olga N. Krankina, Hao Jiang, and Hongyan Li. 1996. Estimating live fuels for shrubs and herbs with BIOPAK. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-372. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 21 p. (Pub Number 2176)


BIOPAK (Means, et al. 1994) is a software package for the PC that provides flexibility for linking plant measurements to a library of documented equations, that estimate plant components, e.g. leaf mass, leaf area, stem wood mass, bark mass, fuel size classes. It can be used, for example, to estimate browse or leaf area for wildlife, live fuels for fuels appraisal, biomass components for studies of plant resource allocation, and leaf area for plant process studies. It is menu-driven and includes on-line help. For a given species and plant component, the program can choose equations from those contained in an equation library using built-in assumptions based primarily on comparisons of plant dimensions, geographic area sampled and seral stage sampled for input data and prediction equations. Alternatively, a user can direct the program to search a specific subset of the equation library or use a particular equation for particular input data. In this manner, equations from other species may be used for species in the data for which equations are unavailable.

BIOPAK produces reports formatted for people and machine-readable files for use by other software such as graphics, statistics and database programs. Other reports document the design of a computation run and the equations used. It has application in ecosystem studies for calculating biomass allocation, productivity and leaf area; in wildlife and entomology studies for calculating foliage area, and browse (e.g., foliage + small twigs), fruit and inflorescence mass; and fire management for calculating fuels of live plants by size classes.

BIOPAK requires a library of equations: all calculations are made using equations in this library. The software includes a library of over 1100 prediction equations, most of which were developed in the Pacific Northwest of North America, including Southeast Alaska, northern Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This library includes equations from biomes ranging from temperate rain forest to desert. The Equation Library Editor can be used to modify this library. The user can use the Library Editor to build new equation libraries for other biomes and regions of the world using existing equations for those areas.

Means et al. (1996) describe use of BIOPAK to calculate size classes of live fuels for shrubs and herbs. A library of equations to estimate such fuels in the Pacific Northwest of North America (FUELLIB) is described and used in an example. These methods can be used in other regions if the user first enters fuel size class equations for a given region into a new library using the library editor supplied with BIOPAK.

Fuel size classes can be estimated in three ways. (1) When plant measurements needed to as input to the fuels equations are available, fuel classes can be estimated directly for species that have equations in the library or species with similar growth forms. (2) When such plant measurements are not available but measurements needed to estimate above ground biomass are available, fuel classes can be estimated in two steps, by first estimating total above ground biomass for individual plants and then estimating biomass in fuel classes from total aboveground biomass. (3) Lastly, users can use the equations provided to develop new equations that estimate fuels from plot-level estimates of species cover (and possibly other measures). This requires field work but not biomass sampling.

BIOPAK software is no longer available. Date of latest BIOPAK.ZIP is 11/07/1995, version 2.50 and the most updated equation library, BIOLIB10.*, dated 10/29/1995. The 03/15/1996 version contained new versions of the paper describing estimation of fuel size classes and the fuel equation library as well as an expanded and cleaned FUELLIB4.* fuels library.

BIOPAK was developed under DOS and Windows 3.1 from 1988 to 1994. Some of the BIOPAK software does not work well under Windows 2000 [or probably anything more recent]. Problems have been noted with the library editor and computation engine. It is still possible under Windows 2000 to browse the equation library and find equations for potential use in your area.


The BIOPAK equation library is available for download from the H.J. Andrews LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) data catalog (Database Code: TP072).