Statistical Analysis of Mixed Model Factorial Experiments with Missing Factor Combinations: The Case of Asynchronous Cyclic Drought Data

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Agricultural Biometric Service, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003
  • 2 Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Statistical analysis of data from repeated measures experiments with missing factor combinations encounters multiple complications. Data from asynchronous cyclic drought experiments incorporate unequal numbers of drought cycles for different sources and provide an example of data both with repeated measures and missing factor combinations. Repeated measures data are problematic because typical analyses with PROC GLM do not allow the researcher to compare candidate covariance structures. In contrast, PROC MIXED allows comparison of covariance structures and several options for modeling serial correlation and variance heterogeneity. When there are missing factor combinations, the cross-classified model traditionally used for synchronized trials is inappropriate. For asynchronous data, some least squares means estimates for treatment and source main effects, and treatment by source interaction effects are inestimable. The objectives of this paper were to use an asynchronous drought cycle data set to 1) model an appropriate covariance structure using mixed models, and 2) compare the cross-classified fixed effects model to drought cycle nested within source models. We used a data set of midday water potential measurements taken during a cyclic drought study of 15 half-siblings of bigtooth maples (Acer grandidentatum Nutt.) indigenous to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Data were analyzed using SAS PROC MIXED software. Information criteria lead to the selection of a model incorporating separate compound symmetric covariance structures for the two irrigation treatment groups. When using nested models in the fixed portion of the model, there are no missing factors because drought cycle is not treated as a crossed experimental factor. Nested models provided meaningful F tests and estimated all the least squares means, but the cross-classified model did not. Furthermore, the nested models adequately compared the treatment effect of sources subjected to asynchronous drought events. We conclude that researchers wishing to analyze data from asynchronous drought trials must consider using mixed models with nested fixed effects.

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