A critique of current trends in the statistical analysis of seed germination and viability data

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Statistical analysis is increasingly used in seed germination/viability studies across different disciplines. The objective of this opinion piece is to assess current trends in statistical analysis of such data, and draw attention of readers to the limitations of the usual inferential statistics in controlling error rates. The assessments are based on a survey of 429 papers published in 139 peer-reviewed journals in the past 11 years. My intention is to identify areas of concern across a wide range of studies. Accordingly, the areas of greatest concern found in the analysis of percentage seed germination and viability data were: (1) pseudoreplication and/or use of a few replicates; (2) ignoring assumptions of ANOVA and non-parametric tests (NPARTs); (3) uncritical data transformation; (4) arbitrary choice of multiple comparison tests; and (5) lack of emphasis on effect sizes. Given the prevalence of these problems, in my opinion we would be building a body of knowledge on a shaky ground. The discussions that follow will: (1) describe situations where germination data violate assumptions of ANOVA and NPARTs; (2) highlight the implications of the various problems to Type I and Type II error rates; and (3) indicate remedial measures based on the recent statistical literature.
Authors: Sileshi, G.W.
Subjects: statistical analysis, seed germination, ecology
Publication type: ISI, Journal Article, Publication
Year: 2012
ISSN: 0960-2585

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