Accuracy or precision: Implications of sample design and methodology on abundance estimation

Ecological Modelling
By: , and 

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Abstract

Sampling by spatially replicated counts (point-count) is an increasingly popular method of estimating population size of organisms. Challenges exist when sampling by point-count method, and it is often impractical to sample entire area of interest and impossible to detect every individual present. Ecologists encounter logistical limitations that force them to sample either few large-sample units or many small sample-units, introducing biases to sample counts. We generated a computer environment and simulated sampling scenarios to test the role of number of samples, sample unit area, number of organisms, and distribution of organisms in the estimation of population sizes using N-mixture models. Many sample units of small area provided estimates that were consistently closer to true abundance than sample scenarios with few sample units of large area. However, sample scenarios with few sample units of large area provided more precise abundance estimates than abundance estimates derived from sample scenarios with many sample units of small area. It is important to consider accuracy and precision of abundance estimates during the sample design process with study goals and objectives fully recognized, although and with consequence, consideration of accuracy and precision of abundance estimates is often an afterthought that occurs during the data analysis process.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Accuracy or precision: Implications of sample design and methodology on abundance estimation
Series title Ecological Modelling
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.08.016
Volume 316
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 6 p.
First page 185
Last page 190
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N