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Experiment 4

Terrestrial Sampling Techniques
K. Draheim, B. N. Estrella, K. M. L. Garcia, L. Guillermo
Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, University of Santo Tomas, España
Street, Manila 108

Key words:
Point-Quarter
Quadrat,
Relative abundance
Relative density
Sampling,
Transect

Summary
Sampling is the selection of units from a
population of interest in order to come up with generalized
inferences regarding the population as a whole. In the
exercise, quadrat, transect and point-quarter methods were
applied to a sample of candies representing Narra and Fantail species. Among the three methods, quadrat method
was able to give a better impression of the actual
composition of the area occupied by candy samples in
comparison to transect and point-quarter method. Utilizing
Shannon index, Simpson’s index and Jaccard’s index, site
3 was generally the site for high diversity for both Narra
and Fan-tail.

Introduction
Sampling is a vital component of ecology. It is the process of picking out units from a
population of interest in order to come up with fairly generalized inferences regarding the
population as a whole (Trochim 2006). It solves the problem in determining population
distribution, magnitude, and changes in profusion. Samples are always random wherein all
possible combinations of the sampling units have an equal chance of being chosen.
There are three commonly used sampling techniques for non-mobile organisms: Quadrat,
belt/line transect, and point-quarter.
In the quadrat method, a series of squares (also termed “quadrats”) of a set size are
situated in the study habitat and the species that fall within those squares are identified and
catalogued. Ecologists carefully sort through each quadrat to count and identify the subject
organisms. Taking photos of each quadrat is also useful for future analysis of the area. Quadrat
sampling methods are best suited for coastal areas which are relatively accessible. The Natural
Geography inshore Areas (NaGISA) project has been utilizing this method as their main
sampling technique in their research (CML, 2009).
Systematic sampling involves selecting samples at fixed intervals, commonly along a
line. This usually requires doing transects wherein a sampling line is positioned across regions of
environmental gradients. An environmental gradient is a progressive change in abiotic factors
through space or time. Two kinds of systematic sampling are the line and belt transect methods.
Line transects are used to show environmental gradients or linear patterns along plant
communities. This allows researchers to clearly visualize the changes happening along the line.
However, line transects do not give much information regarding relative densities of particular
species. Belt transects are basically similar to line transects. The two differ in a way that belt
transects give information on the abundance and presence or absence of the species (OWWT,
2000).
The point quarter is a plotless method used to approximate density. This technique
assumes that the subject species follow a random spatial pattern. To apply this method, a set of
points along a transect is selected. The area surrounding each point is divided into four

quadrants. The organism closest to the point in each quadrant is noted. The distance between the
central point and the selected organism in each quadrant is determined. The distances for all the
sample points are averaged. The point quarter method is usually used in wide varieties of
vegetation types (ABR, 2016).
Objectives
1. To be able to learn some of the methods in taking representative samples from the real
world
2. To be able to gain an accurate assessment of the composition of a measured area by
looking at a few samples from that area
3. To be able to compare three field sampling techniques to sample candies in an area
Methodology
The following materials were used in the experiment: tally worksheets (Appendix IV),
pencils, erasers, improvised transect lines, 1.0x1.0 m2 quadrat, and a scientific calculator.
Each group was assigned an establishing sample area along the floor of Lab-13. Each
group employed all three methods to sample the candies. For group 3, Narra and fan-tail
counterparts of the candies were counted.
Quadrat Method: A random number was used to select a point somewhere on the
baseline. Another random number was chosen, this one less than 55, to represent a distance in
meters from the baseline. On a line perpendicular to the baseline, a point was establish randomly
as distance from the baseline. That point was used as the lower left corner of the quadrant. The
relative abundance of each candy sample was calculated.
Transect Method: A random number was used (between 0 and 60) and a spot was
determined on the baseline. An approximate 20m line was established perpendicuar to the
baseline through the point. This transect was used to identify and score every candy on the line.
The relative density (RDi) of each candy was also calculated.
Point-Quarter Method: A random number was selected on a point in the baseline.
Another number was selected and moved at a distance in meters on a line perpendicular to the
baseline. The point ate end of the line served as the origin of a set of Cartesian coordinates with
the Y-axis coinciding with a north-south axis and the X-axis coinciding with an east-west axis.
Four quadrants were thus established.
Results

The following formulas were used to obtain the succeeding data
s

H =−∑
'

i=1

ni ni
ln
N N

s

∑ ni (ni−1)

D=1− i=1
N (N −1)

ni = number of individuals
N = total number of individuals of all species

Sj =

a
a+b+c

.

where:
Sj = Jaccard’s similarity coefficient
a = number of species in sample A and sample B (joint occurrences)
b = number of species in sample B but not in sample A
c = number of species in sample A but not in sample B
FAN-TAIL

Table 1. Tally and result of Quadrat Method, H' (Shannon-Wiener), and D (Simpson) for Fan-tail
Quadrat
Sit
es

No. of
Specie
s

H'

D

1

3

-0.338385477

0.03846153
8

2

0

0

0

3

4

-0.362663076

0.07692307
7

4

1

-0.197303797

0

5

2

-0.287969566

0.01282051
3

6

3

-0.338385477

0.03846153
8

7

0

0

0

N

13

1.524707393

0.83333333
3

Table 2. Tally and result of Transect Method, H' (Shannon-Wiener), and D (Simpson) for Fan-tail
Transect
Sit
es

No. of
Specie
s

H'

D

1

0

-

0

2

0

-

0

3

1

-0.34657359

0

4

1

-0.34657359

0

5

2

-0.34657359

0.166666667

6

0

-

0

7

0

-

0

N

4

1.039720771

0.833333333

Table 3. Tally and result of Point-Quarter, H' (Shannon-Wiener), and D (Simpson) for Fan-tail
Point-Quarter
Site
s
1

No. of
Speci
es

H'

D

0

-

-

2

0

-

-

3

0

-

-

4

0

-

-

5

0

-

-

6

0

-

-

7

0

-

-

N

0

0

-

NARRA

Table 4. Tally and result of Quadrat Method, H' (Shannon-Wiener), and D (Simpson) for Narra
Quadrat
Sit
es

No. of
Specie
s

H’

D

1

0

-

0

2

1

0.188504095

0

3

4

0.357932277

0.065934066

4

3

0.330095366

0.032967033

5

1

0.188504095

0

6

3

0.330095366

0.032967033

7

2

0.277987164

0.010989011

N

14

1.673118363

0.857142857

Table 5. Tally and result of Transect Method, H' (Shannon-Wiener), and D (Simpson) for Narra

Transect
Site
s

No. of
Speci
es

H’

D

1

0

-

0

2

0

-

0

3

0

-

0

4

1

-0.34657359

0

5

0

-

0

6

0

-

0

7

1

-0.34657359

0

N

2

0.693147181

1

Table 6. Tally and result of Point-Quarter Method, H' (Shannon-Wiener), and D (Simpson) for
Narra
Point-Quarter
Site
s

No. of
Speci
es

H’

D

1

0

-

-

2

0

-

-

3

0

-

-

4

0

-

-

5

0

-

-

6

1

0

-

7

0

-

-

N

1

0

-

Table 7. Result of Jaccard’s similarity coefficient
Sampling sites
compared
Sj
1,2
1,3
1,4
1,5
1,6
1,7
2,3
2,4
2,5
2,6
2,7
3,4
3,5
3,6
3,7
4,5
4,6
4,7
5,6
5,7
6,7

0
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
0
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
1
1
1
1
0.5
1
1
0.5
1
0.5
0.5

Quadrat
Similarit
y
low
high
high
high
high
low
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high
high

Sampling technique
Transect
Similarit
Sj
y
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
1
high
1
high
0
low
0
low
0.5
high
0
low
0.5
high
0
low
0
low
0
low

Point-quarter
Similarit
Sj
y
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low
0
low

Discussion
Line transect sampling is a popular method used to estimate population density. The
probability density of perpendicular sighting distances from randomly placed transect lines are
modeled to derive an estimate of population density. For all transects performed, Narra is the
more dominant species between the two, constituting most of the total population of species and
the other species Fan-tail constitutes the remaining population.

Quadrats, on the other hand, are used to define sample areas within the study area. The
quadrat method allows the user to define a fixed area, called a plot; within which species
characters can be measured. Usually, a rectangular quadrat frame is used to define the sampling
area, although a quadrat can also be a permanently established area within a site. Although the
exact experimental design will determine where and how many samples are taken, the procedure
always involves measuring species characters of only those that are inside the quadrat.
For this exercise, four quadrats were surveyed and the following results were obtained:
Narra is dominant in quadrats 1 and 4. On the other hand, Fan-tail is dominant in quadrats 3.
While in quadrat 2 both Narra and Fan-tail have almost the same number of species.
The point-quarter method relies upon a random distribution of the organisms in the area
to be sampled. Uniform or clumped distributions will yield erroneous results. However, this
method is one of the most favored for sampling.
In addition to the three sampling techniques utilized in the actual experimentation, other
measures (indices) to quantify the species diversity of the area of study were applied. The
Shannon index (Hʼ, also termed the Shannon-Wiener index) and the Simpson index (D) were
used to interpret both species richness (number of species present) and relative abundance
(dominance or evenness). The Shannon index increases as both the richness and the evenness of
the community increase. For Fan-tail, site 3 (quadrat method) obtained a value of -0.36266,
indicating high diversity of Fan-tail in comparison to the other six replicates; as for transect
method, site 3, 4 and 5 represent high diversity with same values of -0.3579, in site 6 Fan-tail is
less diverse, sites 1 and 2 did not produce any values for Shannon-Wiener index; point-quarter
did not reproduce any values for Shannon-Wiener index. For Narra, site 3 (quadrat) again
indicated high diversity of Narra among replicates with a value of -0.3579. Site 4 and site 7
obtained a value of -0.35793 for Transect, which are sites with high diversity. Site 1,2,3, and 6
(Tansect method) and all sites for Point-quarter method did not produce any values for ShannonWiener index.
Simpsonʼs index (D) is based on the probability of any two individuals drawn at random
from an infinitely large community belonging to the same species. D is a measure of dominance,
so as D increases, diversity (in the sense of evenness) decreases. In the seven replicates, Fan-tail

was the more dominant species in site 3 (Quadrat method) and site 5 (Transect method), whereas
Narra was the more dominant species in site 3 (Quadrant method), in comparison to the other
sites.
To compare diversity among communities, Jaccardʼs similarity index was used. This
index will quantify not just the diversity of a single site, but in comparing biodiversity levels
across sites. Jaccardʼs index only utilizes the richness component of diversity, since it does not
entail any information on abundance. For quadrat method, only site 1 and 7 are low in similarity.
For Transect method, 3 and 4, 3 and 5, 4 and 5, and 4 and 7 were the only compared sites with a
high similarity. For point-quarter method all compared sites obtained low similarity.
Conclusion

In the exercise conducted, quadrat method, transect method and point-quarter method
were effective tools in assessing population distribution of the representative species taken into
account. Among the three field sampling techniques, point-quarter method determined the least
sample candies in the area, observing only one Narra and no fan-tail among the seven replicates.
Unlike Quadrat and Transect method, samples were relatively distributed in the different areas of
the different replicates. Quadrat method was able to record the most number of samples for both
Narra and fan-tail species. The Shannon index (Hʼ, also termed the Shannon-Wiener index) and
the Simpson index (D) were used to quantify biodiversity while Jaccardʼs similarity index to
compare diversity between sites. Site 3 was generally the site for high diversity for both Narra
and Fan-tail.

REFERENCES
Trochim, W. (2006). Sampling. Retrieved March 6, 2016 from
http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/sampling.php
Census of Marine Life. (2009). Quadrat sampling. Retrieved March 6, 2016 from
http://www.coml.org/investigating/observing/quadrat_sampling
Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust. (2000). Ecological sampling methods. Retrieved March 6, 2016

from http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/3howto.htm
Arizona Board of Regents. (2016). Point-centered quarter methods. Retrieved March 6, 2016 from
http://globalrangelands.org/inventorymonitoring/pointcentered