THE META-ANALYSIS OF RESPONSE RATIOS IN EXPERIMENTAL ECOLOGY

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Abstract

Meta-analysis provides formal statistical techniques for summarizing the results of independent experiments and is increasingly being used in ecology. The response ratio (the ratio of mean outcome in the experimental group to that in the control group) and closely related measures of proportionate change are often used as measures of effect magnitude in ecology. Using these metrics for meta-analysis requires knowledge of their statistical properties, but these have not been previously derived. We give the approximate sampling distribution of the log response ratio, discuss why it is a particularly useful metric for many applications in ecology, and demonstrate how to use it in meta-analysis. The meta-analysis of response-ratio data is illustrated using experimental data on the effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on plant biomass responses.

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