Cooper, Nathan W., Thomas, Mark A., Garfinkel, Megan B., Schneider, Katherine L., and Marra, Peter P. 2012. "Comparing the precision, accuracy, and efficiency of branch clipping and sweep netting for sampling arthropods in two Jamaican forest types." Journal of Field Ornithology 83 (4):381-390. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1557-9263.2012.00388.x
ABSTRACT Devising methods for sampling arthropods presents many challenges, including understanding possible differences in results obtained by different individuals (precision), investigating differences between estimates and the actual variable of interest (accuracy), and assessing the effort and cost of a given method (efficiency). We assessed the precision, accuracy, and efficiency of sweep netting and branch clipping, two common methods of sampling arthropods, in mangrove and second-growth scrub forests in Jamaica, West Indies, in 2009. Three individuals used both methods sequentially to sample arthropods in the territories of American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla). We found that both branch clipping and sweep netting lacked precision because different individuals produced different estimates of either arthropod abundance (number of individuals per sample) or biomass. In both forests, more arthropods were sampled with sweep netting, in terms of biomass and abundance, and several orders of arthropods were collected that were missed by branch clipping. We also detected the absence of a predictable habitat-based difference in arthropod biomass with sweep netting, but not with branch clipping. Sweep netting took longer overall (field and processing time combined) and was therefore less efficient. Despite problems with precision and efficiency, our results suggest that sweep netting may be a more accurate method than branch clipping for sampling foliage arthropods in some forest habitats. Our study also reveals the importance of recognizing and controlling for individual bias and of choosing arthropod sampling methods most appropriate to each study species and habitat type.