Field trials may be required to assess risks of genetically modified crops (GMCs) for nontarget arthropods. One critical point of these trials is their capacity to detect differences between the density of one taxon in the GMC and that in the comparator. The detection capacity of a trial depends on the abundance and variability of the taxon, the values assumed for type I (α) and II (β) errors, and the characteristics of the trial and statistical design. To determine the optimal trial layout and statistical analysis, 20 field trials carried out in Spain from 2000 to 2009 to assess risks of GMCs on nontarget arthropods were examined with α and β fixed at 0.05 and 0.20, respectively. Under the experimental conditions tested, taxon variability is the most influential component determining test detection capacity; the maximum acceptable values of taxon variability to achieve a certain detection capacity were calculated for different numbers of replicates (blocks), treatments, and years. A close relationship between taxon variability and mean abundance in visual counts, pitfall traps, and yellow sticky traps allowed minimal critical abundance thresholds to be estimated to guarantee a certain detection capacity and to establish abundance criteria for selecting focal taxa. The number of replications (blocks), treatments, sites, and years has a lesser influence on detection capacity once minimal values in taxon abundance in field trials are ensured. Conclusions reached on the detection capacity of field trials with the experimental data obtained under Mediterranean conditions should be contrasted with those of other regions.
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Vol. 106 • No. 4