Optimizing costs to collect local infauna through grabs: Effect of sampling size and replication

Lidia N. Álvarez, Sara García-Sanz, Néstor E. Bosch, Rodrigo Riera, Fernando Tuya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most ecological studies require a cost-effective collection of multi-species samples. A literature review unravelled that (1) large-sized grabs to collect infauna have been used at greater depths, despite no consistent relationship between grab size and replication across studies; and (2) the total number of taxa and individuals is largely determined by the replication. Then, infauna from a sedimentary (sandy) seabed at Gran Canaria Island was collected through van Veen grabs of three sizes: 0.018, 0.042 and 0.087 m2 to optimize, on a simple cost-benefit basis, sample size and replication. Specifically, (1) the degree of representativeness in the composition of assemblages, and (2) accuracy of three univariate metrics (species richness, total infaunal abundances and the Shannon-Wiener index), was compared according to replication. Then, by considering mean times (a surrogate of costs) to process a sample by each grab, (3) their cost-efficiency was estimated. Representativeness increased with grab size. Irrespective of the grab size, accuracy of univariate metrics considerably increased when n > 10 replicates. Costs associated with the 0.087 m2 grab were consistently lower than costs by the other grabs. In conclusion, because of high representativeness and low cost, a 6.87 L grab appears to be the optimal sample size to assess infauna at our local site.

Original languageEnglish
Article number410
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


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