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Measuring growth patterns in the field: effects of sampling regime and methods on standardized estimates

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Although mixed effects models are widely used in ecology and evolution, their application to standardized traits that change within season or across ontogeny remains limited. Mixed models offer a robust way to standardize individual quantitative traits to a common condition such as body mass at a certain point in time (within a year or across ontogeny), or parturition date for a given climatic condition. Currently, however, most researchers use simple linear models to accomplish this task. We use both empirical and simulated data to underline the application of mixed models for standardizing trait values to a common environment for each individual. We show that mixed model standardizations provide more accurate estimates of mass parameters than linear models for all sampling regimes and especially for individuals with few repeated measures. Our simulations and analyses on empirical data both confirm that mixed models provide a better way to standardize trait values for individuals with repeated measurements compared with classical least squares regression. Linear regression should therefore be avoided to adjust or standardize individual measurements

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, 2500 boulevard de l’université, Sherbrooke, QC J1K 2R1, Canada.

Publication date: 2011-05-02

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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