Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Long Term Resource Monitoring



Probabilities of detecting submersed aquatic vegetation species using a rake method may vary with biomass

Gray, B. R., 2021, Probabilities of detecting submersed aquatic vegetation species using a rake method may vary with biomass: Aquatic Botany, 171:103375, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2021.103375. Data found at: https://doi.org/10.5066/P9NW76ZZ; Code found at: https://doi.org/10.5066/P9ZM11FY


Levels of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) are commonly assessed using a modified garden rake. However, the utility of the rake sampling method relative to methods that are typically viewed as more definitive (and expensive) such as snorkeling and coring remains a matter of debate. This study explores whether probabilities of species detections for four SAV species varied among sampling units in a rake-biomass study and, if so, whether such variation reflected variation in species abundance. Variation in detection probabilities, when unaddressed, may yield biased estimators of percent frequency of occurrence (“occupancy”) and of occurrence-habitat associations. Biomass-driven variation in  detection probabilities is  important because such variation may not be explainable using covariates typically measured when sampling using the rake method. This study found substantial among-unit variation in detection probabilities, with majorities of that variation on the logit or modeling scale being associated with biomass but not with the non-biomass covariates substrate type, water depth and day of study. The study closes by exploring sampling protocols and modeling methods that may yield improved SAV occupancy estimates.


Occupancy models, Rake sampling method, Statistical modeling, Submersed aquatic vegetation

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