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The importance of sample size in marine megafauna tagging studies


Sequeira, AMM and Heupel, MR and Lea, M-A and Eguiluz, VM and Duarte, CM and Meekan, MG and Thums, M and Calich, HJ and Carmichael, RH and Costa, DP and Ferreira, LC and Fernandez-Gracia, J and Harcourt, R and Harrison, A-H and Jonsen, I and McMahon, CR and Sims, DW and Wilson, RP and Hays, GC, The importance of sample size in marine megafauna tagging studies, Ecological Applications, 29, (6) pp. e01947. ISSN 1051-0761 (2019) [Substantial Review]

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DOI: doi:10.1002/eap.1947


Telemetry is a key, widely used tool to understand marine megafauna distribution, habitat use, behavior, and physiology; however, a critical question remains: "How many animals should be tracked to acquire meaningful data sets?" This question has wide‐ranging implications including considerations of statistical power, animal ethics, logistics, and cost. While power analyses can inform sample sizes needed for statistical significance, they require some initial data inputs that are often unavailable. To inform the planning of telemetry and biologging studies of marine megafauna where few or no data are available or where resources are limited, we reviewed the types of information that have been obtained in previously published studies using different sample sizes. We considered sample sizes from one to >100 individuals and synthesized empirical findings, detailing the information that can be gathered with increasing sample sizes. We complement this review with simulations, using real data, to show the impact of sample size when trying to address various research questions in movement ecology of marine megafauna. We also highlight the value of collaborative, synthetic studies to enhance sample sizes and broaden the range, scale, and scope of questions that can be answered.

Item Details

Item Type:Substantial Review
Keywords:vertebrate, marine, telemetry, biologging, ecology, animal ethics, animal welfare
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Lea, M-A (Professor Mary-Anne Lea)
ID Code:135120
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-10-01
Last Modified:2019-10-01

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