Required sample sizes when estimating means

In the previous examples, estimates of parameters were obtained by using sampled data and sometimes also by using prior information. In general, the precision of these estimates will increase as more data are collected, but how much data is necessary for a particular level of precision?

When estimating an average it is important to know what sample size is required. Ecological data can be highly variable, so sample sizes might need to be large to achieve a desired level of precision for parameter estimates. Ecological studies often suffer from insufficient sample size because unless it is calculated explicitly, scientists routinely overestimate the level of precision that they will obtain (Burgman, 2005).

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