To examine sample size requirements and optimum allocation of effort in point count sampling of bottomland hardwood forests, we computed minimum sample sizes from variation recorded during 82 point counts (May 7-May 16, 1992) from three localities containing three habitat types across three regions of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV). Also, we estimated the effect of increasing the number of points or visits by comparing results of 150 four-minute point counts obtained from each of four stands on Delta Experimental Forest (DEF) during May 8-May 21, 1991 and May 30-June 12, 1992. For each stand, we obtained bootstrap estimates of mean cumulative number of species each year from all possible combinations of six points and six visits. ANOVA was used to model cumulative species as a function of number of points visited, number of visits to each point, and interaction of points and visits. There was significant variation in numbers of birds and species between regions and localities (nested within region); neither habitat, nor the interaction between region and habitat, was significant. For a = 0.05 and a = 0.10, minimum sample size estimates (per factor level) varied by orders of magnitude depending upon the observed or specified range of desired detectable difference. For observed regional variation, 20 and 40 point counts were required to accommodate variability in total individuals (MSE = 9.28) and species (MSE = 3.79), respectively, whereas ? 25 percent of the mean could be achieved with five counts per factor level. Sample size sufficient to detect actual differences of Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) was >200, whereas the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) required <10 counts. Differences in mean cumulative species were detected among number of points visited and among number of visits to a point. In the lower MAV, mean cumulative species increased with each added point through five points and with each additional visit through four visits. Although no interaction was detected between number of points and number of visits, when paired reciprocals were compared, more points invariably yielded a significantly greater cumulative number of species than more visits to a point. Still, 36 point counts per stand during each of two breeding seasons detected only 52 percent of the known available species pool in DEF.
Additional publication details
Sample size and allocation of effort in point count sampling of birds in bottomland hardwood forests
U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest Experiment Station