ABSTRACT

Because benthic foraminifera exhibit spatial heterogeneity, a number of replicates or multiple biological samples are necessary to estimate population densities. In this study, we empirically examine the efficacy of taking four or fewer replicates to differentiate among mean densities in location and time using p-values as a metric for strength of evidence against the null hypothesis of no difference in taxon density. For spatial analyses, four stations along a traverse with four replicates per station were compared with ANOVA within Mission Bay, Texas, using the four most abundant taxa. The p-values for comparing mean densities among stations increased markedly for all taxa, as the number of samples per station decreased from four to two. Using a test level of 0.05, four replicates per station resulted, on average, in significant differences for three of four taxa, three replicates distinguished two of four taxa, and two replicates detected only one difference. For temporal analyses, a single station was sampled in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, seasonally over four years. Again, p-values increased markedly as the number of samples per station decreased. Using a test level of 0.05, both four- and three-replicate groups were found to separate mean densities among the four years for three of four taxa, two replicates distinguished one taxon, and use of only one replicate could not detect any difference in mean densities among the four years. Based on these and previous field results, we recommend at least four replicates per station for environmental monitoring. However, when examining mean densities within larger ecological entities such as biofacies, just one sample at each station along a single traverse containing four stations in each bay could delineate Mission, Copano, and Mesquite bays in Texas.

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