It is a challenge in the field sampling to face conflict between the statistical requirements and the logistical constraints when explicitly estimating the macrobenthos species richness in the heterogeneous intertidal wetlands. To solve this problem, this study tried to design an optimal, efficient and practical sampling strategy by comprehensively focusing on the three main parts of the entire process (to optimize the sampling method, to determine the minimum sampling effort and to explore the proper sampling interval) in a typical intertidal wetland of the Changjiang (Yangtze) Estuary, China. Transect sampling was selected and optimized by stratification based on pronounced habitat types (tidal flat, tidal creek, salt marsh vegetation). This type of sampling is also termed within-transect stratification sampling. The optimal sampling intervals and the minimum sample effort were determined by two beneficial numerical methods: Monte Carlo simulations and accumulative species curves. The results show that the within-transect stratification sampling with typical habitat types was effective for encompassing 81% of the species, suggesting that this type of sampling design can largely reduce the sampling effort and labor. The optimal sampling intervals and minimum sampling efforts for three habitats were determined: sampling effort must exceed 1.8 m2 by 10 m intervals in the salt marsh vegetation, 2 m2 by 10 m intervals in the tidal flat, and 3 m2 by 1 m intervals in the tidal creek habitat. It was suggested that the differences were influenced by the mobility range of the dominant species and the habitats’ physical differences (e.g., tidal water, substrate, vegetation cover). The optimized sampling strategy could provide good precision in the richness estimation of macrobenthos and balance the sampling effort. Moreover, the conclusions presented here provide a reference for recommendations to consider before macrobenthic surveys take place in estuarine wetlands. The sampling strategy, focusing on the three key parts of the sampling design, had a good operational effect and could be used as a guide for field sampling for habitat management or ecosystem assessment.
Tingting Zhang, Feng Zhao, Sikai Wang, Tao Zhang, Jianyi Liu, Yu Gao, Ping Zhuang. Estimating the macrobenthic species richness with an optimized sampling design in the intertidal zone of Changjiang Estuary[J]. ACTA OCEANOLOGICA SINICA, 2019, 38(2): 114-124. doi: 10.1007/s13131-019-1352-3.