The spatial distribution and dispersion of Anaphothrips obscuras (Müller) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) was examined with the goal of establishing a sequential sampling plan for this pest in timothy, Phleum pratense L. (Poaceae). Approximately 16 different California timothy fields were sampled twice yearly from 2006 to 2008 using direct observation and the beat cup method. For direct observation, the number of thrips on each leaf of the plant was counted. For the beat cup method, tillers were tapped into a cup and dislodged thrips were counted. Samples were separated by ∼3 m in 2006 and 2007 and exactly 3 m in 2008. Spatial autocorrelation of intrafield population distribution was tested for significance in 2008 using Moran's I, but autocorrelation was not detected. The population dispersion was assessed by Taylor's power law and was determined to be aggregated and density-dependent. Intraplant population dispersion and distribution for each year were also evaluated for adults, larvae, and total thrips. All lifestages were highly spatially dependent and more thrips were found near the top of the plant than the bottom. Direct observation proved to be a more accurate and precise method than the beat cup method, especially when thrips abundances were greater than one. However, the number of samples required to provide an accurate level of precision was unrealistic for both methods. A sequential sampling plan was evaluated, but was not practical for the beat cup method because few thrips were found using this method. Because there was no spatial autocorrelation at sampling distances of 3 m, samples can be taken at intervals at 3 m to obtain spatially independent population abundance estimates.
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