Importance of sample size for estimating prevalence: a case example of infectious hematopoietic necrosis viral rna detection in mixed-stock fraser river sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), british columbia, canada

Emilie Laurin, Julia Bradshaw, Laura Hawley, Ian A. Gardner, Kyle Garver, Stewart C. Johnson, Krishna K. Thakur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Proper sample size must be considered when designing infectious-agent prevalence studies for mixed-stock fisheries, because bias and uncertainty complicate interpretation of apparent (test)-prevalence estimates. Sample size varies between stocks and are often smaller than expected during wild-salmonid surveys. Our case example of 2010–2016 survey of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) from different stocks of origin in British Columbia, Canada, illustrated the effect of sample size on apparent-prevalence interpretation. Molecular testing (viral RNA RT-qPCR) for infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNv) revealed large differences in apparent prevalence across wild salmon stocks (much higher from Chilko Lake) and sampling location (fresh water or marine), indicating differences in both stock and host life-stage effects. Ten of the 13 marine non-Chilko stock–years with IHNv-positive results had small sample sizes (<30 samples per stock–year), which, with imperfect diagnostic tests (particularly lower diagnostic sensitivity), could lead to inaccurate apparent-prevalence estimation. When calculating sample size for expected apparent prevalence using different approaches, smaller sample sizes often led to decreased confidence in apparent-prevalence results and decreased power to detect a true difference from a reference value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume78
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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