Avoiding the misuse of BLUP in behavioral ecology
Oxford University Press (OUP) for International Society for Behavioral Ecology
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Having recognized that variation around the population-level “Golden Mean” of labile traits contains biologically meaningful information, behavioural ecologists have focused increasingly on exploring the causes and consequences of individual variation in behaviour. These are exciting new directions for the field, assisted in no small part by the adoption of mixed-effects modelling techniques that enable the partitioning of among- and within-individual behavioural variation. It has become commonplace to extract predictions of individual random effects from such models for use in subsequent analyses (for example, between a personality trait and other individual traits such as cognition, physiology, or fitness-related measures). However, these predictions are made with large amounts of error that is not carried forward, rendering further tests susceptible to spurious P values from these individual-level point estimates. We briefly summarize the problems with such statistical methods that are used regularly by behavioural ecologists, and highlight the robust solutions that exist within the mixed model framework, providing tutorials to aid in their implementation.
This work was supported by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grant (BB/L022656/1)
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 28 (4), pp. 948–952