A practical guide and power analysis for GLMMs: detecting among treatment variation in random effects Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In ecology and evolution generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) are becoming increasingly used to test for differences in variation by treatment at multiple hierarchical levels. Yet, the specific sampling schemes that optimize the power of an experiment to detect differences in random effects by treatment/group remain unknown. In this paper we develop a blueprint for conducting power analyses for GLMMs focusing on detecting differences in variance by treatment. We present parameterization and power analyses for random-intercepts and random-slopes GLMMs because of their generality as focal parameters for most applications and because of their immediate applicability to emerging questions in the field of behavioral ecology. We focus on the extreme case of hierarchically structured binomial data, though the framework presented here generalizes easily to any error distribution model. First, we determine the optimal ratio of individuals to repeated measures within individuals that maximizes power to detect differences by treatment in among-individual variation in intercept, among-individual variation in slope, and within-individual variation in intercept. Second, we explore how power to detect differences in target variance parameters is affected by total variation. Our results indicate heterogeneity in power across ratios of individuals to repeated measures with an optimal ratio determined by both the target variance parameter and total sample size. Additionally, power to detect each variance parameter was low overall (in most cases >1,000 total observations per treatment needed to achieve 80% power) and decreased with increasing variance in non-target random effects. With growing interest in variance as the parameter of inquiry, these power analyses provide a crucial component for designing experiments focused on detecting differences in variance. We hope to inspire novel experimental designs in ecology and evolution investigating the causes and implications of individual-level phenotypic variance, such as the adaptive significance of within-individual variation.

publication date

  • 2015

published in