Plot size and estimation efficiency in plant community studies
Article first published online: 24 FEB 2009
1991 IAVS - the International Association of Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 2, Issue 4, pages 539–544, August 1991
How to Cite
Kenkel, N. C. and Podani, J. (1991), Plot size and estimation efficiency in plant community studies. Journal of Vegetation Science, 2: 539–544. doi: 10.2307/3236036
- Issue published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Article first published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Received 13 December 1990; Revision received 26 June 1991; Accepted 28 June 1991.
- Spatial process;
- Scoggan (1978)
Abstract. We examine the effects of changing plot size on parameter estimation efficiency in multivariate (community-level) ecological studies, where estimation efficiency is defined in terms relating to the statistical precision of estimates of all variables (e.g. species) in a data set. Three ‘efficiency criteria’ for multivariate estimation are developed, and the relationship between estimation efficiency and plot size examined using three field data sets (deciduous understory, coniferous understory, and mire vegetation) from central Canada.
For all three communities, estimation efficiency was found to increase monotonically with increasing plot size. However, relative gains in efficiency at larger plot sizes were offset by substantial increases in sampling effort (enumeration time per plot). Our results indicate that the largest plot size possible, given the constraints of time, should be used for parameter estimation in plant communities. Also, plots that are larger than the mean patch size should be utilized when sampling heterogeneous vegetation.