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Problems of sampling macrophytes are related to the types of communities under consideration and the goals of a particular study. The communities may range from completely submersed beds of large algae, mosses, pteridophytes, or angiosperms to rooted plants with floating leaves or floating plants with emergent leaves to wetland areas. The goals of a study may be community description or impact analysis. Because of this community and goal diversity a quantitative investigation often requires a rigorous statistical design to determine the best sampling design. Of the various sampling designs available there are two general techniques: plot or quadrat methods and plotless methods.
Plot or quadrat methods are area methods of sampling communities where the plot may be rectangular, square, or circular, and all individuals in the plot are sampled. Plotless methods usually involve a more random approach of sampling; for example, a compass line is laid out through the community and samples are taken according to some fixed rule. Another type of common sampling, which may be plot or plotless, involves the use of transects. A transect is, in effect, a very long narrow rectangular plot, which may be divided into blocks with samples being selected by some fixed rule. Each of these sampling methodologies is best suited to a particular type of community and study.
It is the purpose of this paper to review these various sampling methodologies and to evaluate their efficacy, in a statistical sense, in view of the goals of a specific study.
sampling, aquatic plants, statistics, macrophyton, sampling program design, plot methods, quadrat methods, plotless methods, line transect, line intercept
Associate division director, R. F. Weston, West Chester, PA