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My model is:

model1 <- glmer(Avg_egg_mass ~ Treatment + Alt_cat + Treatment:Alt_cat + (1|Nest) + (1|Site)+ (1|Year), na.action=na.omit, family = poisson (link=log), data = dframe1)

where I am relating average egg mass (continous variable) to a four group treatment (set to factor) and three categories of altitude (also set to factor).

It doesn't seem to work and I get this error message Error: grouping factors must have > 1 sampled level.

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  • $\begingroup$ If your response is continuous, a Poisson model is mis-specified. $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax
    Sep 23, 2014 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @user777 You would be interested, then, in reading the post at blog.stata.com/tag/poisson-regression explaining how and why such a model can be useful. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Sep 23, 2014 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber That post is very interesting, and illustrates a use of Poisson regression I was not aware of. But I can't wrap my mind around something simple: if $P$ is a Poisson PMF, then $P(2.5)=0$. So am I correct that the procedure uses an analogue to the Poisson distribution with support over $\mathbb{R}^+$? $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax
    Sep 23, 2014 at 17:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user777 Good point. The fitting is done using maximum likelihood. The contribution to the "likelihood" of the parameter $\lambda$ due to any nonnegative integral value $x$ can be rewritten $\exp(-\lambda)\lambda^x/x!=\exp(x\log(\lambda)-\lambda)/\Gamma(x+1),$ which actually is defined for all real (indeed, complex) values of $x$. I believe that is what is used in this generalized application. $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Sep 23, 2014 at 17:22

1 Answer 1

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What's happening is that your data are cast as factors, but not all levels of that factor appear in your data. So you can't group your data by these non-present factors. You'll either have to use a superset of this data which includes all levels of the factors, or re-level the grouping columns to have levels only for the groups present in the column.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the fast reply! That makes sense and I have changes my categories for altitude. Instead I now get the warning messages "1: In (function (fr, X, reTrms, family, nAGQ = 1L, verbose = 0L, ... :non-integer x = 4.500000". Could you by any chance explain why this is happening now? Cheers $\endgroup$
    – Aisha
    Sep 27, 2014 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Aisha I can't say for sure. My advice would be to look at your data and find where the value 4.5 occurs. Wherever it is, the fit procedure doesn't like non-integer values to be there. $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax
    Sep 27, 2014 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ The non-integer values issue was actually related to a different model, where I looked at rate of female provisioning per hour in relation to the above variables. I can't really change these values to integers. $\endgroup$
    – Aisha
    Oct 6, 2014 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Aisha It sounds like you still have some questions. That's fine! If it's a statistics-related question, ask it here. If it's more related to programming, Stack Overflow is the correct place to ask. $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax
    Oct 6, 2014 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I'm still a little confused. So I get the same integer warning messages in a few of my models. For example when I run this glmer: model1 <- glmer(Avg_egg_mass ~ Treatment + Alt + Treatment:Alt + (1|Obs), family = poisson(link=log), data = dframe1) and the output is: "There were 50 or more warnings (use warnings() to see the first 50) > warnings() Warning messages: 1: In (function (fr, X, reTrms, family, nAGQ = 1L, verbose = 0L, ... :non-integer x = 1.010000" $\endgroup$
    – Aisha
    Oct 9, 2014 at 12:46

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