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In a pdf, the definition of adaptive sampling design is written as :

"An adaptive sampling design is one in which the selection of units to include in the sample depends on values of the variable of interest observed during the survey."

What is meant by values of the variable?

I know adaptive sampling design is applicable if the unit is rare.

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In an adaptive sampling design, the sampling procedure may be altered during the survey based on the values of the variable of interest that has been observed so far. Assume that the variable of interest is $y$. Also assume that the desired (fixed) sample size is $n_s$ and that you have made $m<n_s$ observations of your variable, $y_1,\ldots,y_m$. Then, in an adaptive sampling design, you would be able to change your selection procedure during the survey depending on the observed $y_1,\ldots,y_m$. So, the "values of the variable" are basically the values of your variable of interest that you have observed until the current time in your survey.

A classical example is when a rare, spatially clustered animal population is surveyed. When the researcher discovers an area where the density of animals is high (during the sampling process), he or she might want to change the sampling procedure to include only those geographical sites that are neighbors to the area with high population density, hence adapting the sampling procedure to what has been observed so far.

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  • $\begingroup$ Isn't adaptive sampling design a sampling procedure ? Isn't this procedure only applicable for rare sampling unit ? And isn't it scheme always to include those neighbors areas to the sampled area with high population density? Then what is meant by the sampling procedure may be altered during the survey based on the values of the variable of interest in your 1st line? I want to mean that the value of variable of interest is always rare in a adaptive sampling and the usual procedure is to select the neighbor areas to the sampled area with high population density. $\endgroup$ – time Feb 12 '15 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ In general, an adaptive sampling design is such that the probability of obtaining the sample is allowed to depend on the observed variables of interest. The selection procedure may then be different for each sample obtained. It is true that adaptive sampling designs often are used for populations where the sampling units are rare, but generally, this does not need to be the case. $\endgroup$ – Apeln Feb 13 '15 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ Would you please cite me a reference or give me an example where adaptive sampling design is applied but the sampling units are not rare. $\endgroup$ – time Feb 14 '15 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ The adaptive web sampling design described in Thompson (2006) for network sampling is useful even if the units are not rare. $\endgroup$ – Apeln Feb 16 '15 at 8:38

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