When I run:

model1 <- glmer(Avg_egg_mass ~ Treatment + Alt + Treatment:Alt + (1|Obs), family = poisson(link=log), data = dframe1)

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" and it goes on in this fashion for all my data in that column.

Do I have to make this an integer?

The summary of model2 then says:

"Error in diag(vcov(object, use.hessian = use.hessian)) : error in evaluating the argument 'x' in selecting a method for function 'diag': Error in eigen(V.hess, symmetric = TRUE, only.values = TRUE) : infinite or missing values in 'x'"

Can anybody help?

  • $\begingroup$ In general it wouldn't seem sensible to model an average egg mass with a Poisson distribution (which only applies to a unitless count variable). Perhaps you intended to use a log-Normal (lmer(log(Avg_egg_mass) ~ ...) or a Gamma model? $\endgroup$
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yes thanks, I just noticed that and changed it back to gaussian - the error message has now disappeared. Now I get this instead "Error in checkNlevels(reTrms$flist, n = n, control) : number of levels of each grouping factor must be < number of observations" Any ideas? $\endgroup$
    – Aisha
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ that's because you shouldn't (generally) use an observation-level random effect with a Gaussian -- it's confounded with the residual error term. If that was your only grouping variable, then you don't even really need a mixed model $\endgroup$
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks alot! It works when I leave that variable away and add a different random effect with a lesser number of levels. $\endgroup$
    – Aisha
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


Just for the sake of resolving the question, I'm going to state that this is probably due to a confusion over the modeling framework. It would rarely (if ever) be sensible to model an average egg mass with a Poisson distribution (which only applies to a unitless count variable). If you have average counts, and have a measurement of the total exposure (i.e. you have total counts and the area or time over which they were collected), you can do a Poisson model with an offset.

In this case it would make more sense to use a log-Normal (i.e., by transforming the response and then fitting a linear mixed model, lmer(log(Avg_egg_mass) ~ ...) or a Gamma model (the former, log-Normal approach is easier; I would generally only recommend a Gamma model in cases where there is a strong mechanistic or cultural reason to use one).


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