Cluster Sampling Made Easy

WINNER: 2014 Best Paper, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

Cluster sampling is one of the most common survey designs used in fisheries research to sample fish populations. However, many researchers don’t take clustering into account when they are analyzing their data, largely due to lack of awareness. When the effect of clustering is ignored, population estimates, results of hypothesis testing, and conclusions drawn from statistical analyses may be incorrect. In Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, Gary A. Nelson of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries provides a nice article on the nature of cluster sampling design and common mistakes researchers make when using it. He provides an excellent introduction on how to estimate population attributes and analyze fisheries data collected via cluster sampling. We loved this paper because it has an important practical application, as well as a thoughtful discussion that provides insight into understanding fish sampling design, making it a must read for any fisheries class.


Nelson, G. A. 2014. Cluster sampling: a pervasive, yet little recognized survey design in fisheries research. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143(4):926-938.

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