State of the Nations' Birds

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## Statistically significant

Not resulting from mere chance. If a relationship between one variable and another is subjected to statistical testing and is found to be real rather than simply coincidental, that relationship can be described as statistically significant. Fox example, in a case where egg laying date and breeding success were apparently linked, if the data were tested for statistical significance the 'probability' of such a relationship occurring by chance would be indicated. Such probability is usually written in the form (for example) 'P<0.01', meaning that in this case coincidence could be expected less than once in every hundred occurrences. Therefore tests of statistical significance greatly reduce the risk of incorrect interpretation of data, and so they are very useful in ornithological studies, where the data usually consist of very small samples of the total population.From Peter Weaver's

Birdwatcher's Dictionary

Copyright © 1981 by Peter Weaver

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