The consequence of reducing sample size on the accuracy and precision of estimates of citrus rust mite, Phyllocoptruta oleivora (Ashmead), densities on oranges was investigated. The sample unit was a 1-cm2 surface area on fruit. Sampling plans consisting of 360, 300, 200, 160, 80, 48, 36, or 20 samples per 4 ha were evaluated through computer simulations by using real count data from 32 data sets of 600 sample units per 4 ha. The original and reduced sampling plans were hierarchical with different numbers of sample areas per 4 ha, trees per area, fruit per tree, and samples per fruit. Individual estimates (n = 100 simulations per data set) using each plan were sometimes considerably below or above target densities. In an original set of count data with a mean of six mites per cm2, simulations of 36 samples per 4 ha produced individual estimates ranging from one to 16 mites per cm2, whereas 80 samples per 4 ha produced estimates ranging from two to 10 mites per cm2. The plans consisting of 36 or more samples were projected to provide precision levels of 0.25 (SEM/mean) or better at densities of five or more mites per cm2 based on log-data, a projection that needs to be verified under real-grove situations. Each plan consistently provided mite detection in these sampling simulations except those consisting of 20 or 36 samples, which sometimes failed to detect mites when the target density was less than five mites per cm2. The study provided insight into the probable precision, accuracy and detection thresholds for eight candidate sampling plans varying from relatively low to high resource input.
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