The Biogeography Branch's Sampling Design Tool for ArcGIS provides users a means to efficiently sample a population, be it people, animals, objects or processes, in a GIS environment. The tool was created for sampling when the population and component sampling units are defined by known dimensions.
The Sampling Design Tool was developed in response to a need by scientists developing sampling strategies in marine environments with limited data. The tool was produced as part of an iterative process of sampling design development, whereby existing data informs new design decisions. The objective of this process, and hence a product of this tool, is an optimal sampling design which can be used to achieve accurate, high-precision estimates of population metrics at a minimum of cost. Although NOAA's Biogeography Branch focuses on marine habitats and some examples reflects this, the tool can be used to sample any type of population defined in space, be it coral reefs or corn fields.
The Sampling Design Tool has two main functions: 1) to help select a sample from a population, and 2) to perform sample design analysis. When both of these functions are combined in an iterative manner, the tool effectively and simply achieves the goal of sample surveys â€” to obtain accurate, high-precision estimates of population metrics at a minimum of cost.
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