An under-appreciated difficulty: Sampling of plant populations for analysis using molecular markers

Jun Ichirou Suzuki, Tomás Herben, Masayuki Maki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Results of studies using molecular markers for determining demographic and genetical population parameters especially in plants or sessile animals under field conditions are strongly dependent on the sampling strategy adopted. There are two critical decisions to make when determining this strategy: (i) what is the unit to be sampled?, (ii) how should units to be sampled in the field be selected? For the first decision, there are two conceptually different approaches: sampling ramets of clonal plants as units (to get information about within-genet parameters, such as genet sizes or numbers) and sampling genets of clonal or non-clonal plants as units (to get information of the genetic structure of the population). For the second decision, it is critically important to make the goal of the study explicit. We argue that in this case fully random sampling is needed only when an estimate of the true value of the population parameter is needed; if a comparison between populations is the goal, however, other sampling schemes may be adopted. The efficiency of different types of sampling strategies to recover relative values in a spatially extended population is studied by means of a spatially explicit simulation model. The results show that a regular pattern of sampling is best for obtaining information on genet sizes or inbreeding coefficients; in contrast, random or hierarchical sampling strategies are better for obtaining information on parameters that are based on comparison of pairs of individuals, such as distribution of genet sizes or autocorrelation in genetic structure. A set of recommendations is provided for designing a good sampling strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-646
Number of pages22
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Sep


  • Genet number
  • Genet size
  • Hierarchical sampling
  • Inbreeding coefficient
  • Ramet
  • Random sampling
  • Sampling strategy
  • Spatial autocorrelation
  • Spatially explicit simulation model
  • Systematic sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'An under-appreciated difficulty: Sampling of plant populations for analysis using molecular markers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this