How to design an efficient large-area survey continues to be an interesting question for ecologists. In sampling large areas, as is common in environmental studies, adaptive sampling can be efficient because it ensures survey effort is targeted to subareas of high interest. In two-stage sampling, higher density primary sample units are usually of more interest than lower density primary units when populations are rare and clustered. Two-stage sequential sampling has been suggested as a method for allocating second stage sample effort among primary units. Here, we suggest a modification: adaptive two-stage sequential sampling. In this method, the adaptive part of the allocation process means the design is more flexible in how much extra effort can be directed to higher-abundance primary units. We discuss how best to design an adaptive two-stage sequential sample. ?? 2008 The Society of Population Ecology and Springer.