Geostatistics involves the fitting of spatially continuous models to spatially discrete data (Chil`es and Delfiner, 1999). Preferential sampling arises when the process that determines the data-locations and the process being modelled are stochastically dependent. Conventional geostatistical methods assume, if only implicitly, that sampling is non-preferential. However, these methods are often used in situations where sampling is likely to be preferential. For example, in mineral exploration samples may be concentrated in areas thought likely to yield high-grade ore. We give a general expression for the likelihood function of preferentially sampled geostatistical data and describe how this can be evaluated approximately using Monte Carlo methods. We present a model for preferential sampling, and demonstrate through simulated examples that ignoring preferential sampling can lead to seriously misleading inferences. We describe an application of the model to a set of bio-monitoring data from Galicia, northern Spain, in which making allowance for preferential sampling materially changes the inferences.


Statistical Methodology | Statistical Theory