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Sampling for Plant Disease Incidence

November 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  11
Pages  1,088 - 1,103

L. V. Madden and G. Hughes

First author: Department of Plant Pathology, Ohio State University, Wooster 44691-4096; and second author: Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG Scotland

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Accepted for publication 29 June 1999.

Knowledge of the distribution of diseased plant units (such as leaves, plants, or roots) or of the relationship between the variance and mean incidence is essential to efficiently sample for diseased plant units. Cluster sampling, consisting of N sampling units of n individuals each, is needed to determine whether the binomial or beta-binomial distribution describes the data or to estimate parameters of the binary power law for disease incidence. The precision of estimated disease incidence can then be evaluated under a wide range of settings including the hierarchical sampling of groups of individuals, the various levels of spatial heterogeneity of disease, and the situation when all individuals are disease free. Precision, quantified with the standard error or the width of the confidence interval for incidence, is directly related to N and inversely related to the degree of heterogeneity (characterized by the intracluster correlation, ρ). Based on direct estimates of ρ (determined from the θ parameter of the beta-binomial distribution or from the observed variance) or a model predicting ρ as a function of incidence (derived from the binary power law), one can calculate, before a sampling bout, the value of N needed to achieve a desired level of precision. The value of N can also be determined during a sampling bout using sequential sampling methods, either to estimate incidence with desired precision or to test a hypothesis about true disease incidence. In the latter case, the sequential probability ratio test is shown here to be useful for classifying incidence relative to a hypothesized threshold when the data follows the beta-binomial distribution with either a fixed ρ or a ρ that depends on incidence.

Additional keywords: dispersion, reliability, spatial patterns.

© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society