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1 October 2010 Within- and Among-Observer Variation in Measurements of Animal Biometrics and their Influence on Accurate Quantification of Common Biometric-Based Condition Indices
Anne E. Goodenough, Richard Stafford, Christina L. Catlin-Groves, Angela L. Smith, Adam G. Hart
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Abstract

Research using biometric data relies on consistent measurements within, and often among, observers. However, research into the relative importance of intra- and inter-observer variability is limited. More importantly, the influence of biometric variability on accurate quantification of biometric-based condition indices has not been analysed: it is unclear whether multiple errors become magnified or cancel one another out. Here, we quantify intra- and inter-specific variability in multiple biometrics, and derived condition indices, using museum bird specimens. Inter-observer variability was higher than intra-observer variability for all parameters. Measurement error (ME) varied from < 1% to > 50% for different biometrics. ME was magnified in condition estimates, reaching > 80% within-observers and > 90% among-observers. Significant differences in mean measurements were found for 17% and 67% of biometrics within-and among-observers, respectively; for condition indices, the figures were 50% and 67%, respectively. We discuss the implications of these findings for research into species' ecology, taxonomy and behaviour.

© Finnish Zoological and Botanical Publishing Board 2010
Anne E. Goodenough, Richard Stafford, Christina L. Catlin-Groves, Angela L. Smith, and Adam G. Hart "Within- and Among-Observer Variation in Measurements of Animal Biometrics and their Influence on Accurate Quantification of Common Biometric-Based Condition Indices," Annales Zoologici Fennici 47(5), 323-334, (1 October 2010). https://doi.org/10.5735/086.047.0503
Received: 1 April 2010; Accepted: 1 July 2010; Published: 1 October 2010
JOURNAL ARTICLE
12 PAGES


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