[R-sig-ME] Random effects with data collected at different scales

Brandt, Carla Freitas c@r|@@|re|t@@@br@ndt @end|ng |rom h|@no
Wed Apr 3 07:36:33 CEST 2019

Dear all,
I'm reviewing a scientific article and have a doubt about an important part of the article. I wonder if any of you could help...
For confidentiality issues, I will illustrate the question with an example.

The authors tracked marine animals and measured residence time (RT) inside imaginary circles along the track (at regular 10 km along the track). The problem is that the size of the circles was different for each animal (meaning that RT for some animals is the time spent in 10 km radius areas for example, while for other animals RT is the time spent in 60 km radius areas).
The authors then fitted a GAM with individual ID as random effect (using s(ID, bs="re") and argue that this will account for the fact that RT was measured at different scales for different individuals. Is this valid? The authors provide this reference:

Random effects are often used in telemetry studies to take into account repeated measurements from the same individual and to take into account random intrinsic variability between individuals. Is it valid to use random effects to take into account that data from different individuals were collected at different scales?

Thank you in advance for any help about this.
Best regards,


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