Horticulture Research International, East Malling, West Malling, Kent, ME19 6BJ, United Kingdom
This article investigates the relationships between various statistical measures that are used to summarize spatial aspects of disease incidence data. The focus is on quadrat data in which each plant in a quadrat is classified as diseased or healthy. We show that spatial autocorrelation plays a central role via the mean intraclass correlation, ρ, which is defined as the average correlation of the disease status of all pairs of plants within the quadrat. The value of ρ determines the variance of the number of infected plants in the quadrat and, if this variable follows a beta-binomial distribution, the heterogeneity parameter of the beta-binomial distribution is directly related to the mean intraclass correlation. We consider in detail a model in which the spatial autocorrelation depends only on the distance between the plants. For illustration, we consider a specific autocorrelation model that was derived from simulated data. We show that this model leads, approximately, to the binary form of the power law relating the variance of the number of infected plants per quadrat to the mean. Using an approximation technique, we then show how the index of dispersion is related to quadrat size and shape. The index of dispersion increases with quadrat size. The rate of increase is dependent on quadrat shape, but the effect of quadrat shape is small in comparison to the effect of quadrat size. Finally, we note that if the spatial autocorrelation depends on the relative orientation of the plants, as well as the distance between them, there are connections with distance class methods.