Estimating monotonic rates from biological data using local linear regression

Photo credit: JP Krajewski


Accessing many fundamental questions in biology begins with empirical estimation of simple monotonic rates of underlying biological processes. Across a variety of disciplines, ranging from physiology to biogeochemistry, these rates are routinely estimated from non-linear and noisy time series data using linear regression and ad hoc manual truncation of non-linearities. Here, we introduce the R package LoLinR, a flexible toolkit to implement local linear regression techniques to objectively and reproducibly estimate monotonic biological rates from non-linear time series data, and demonstrate possible applications using metabolic rate data. LoLinR provides methods to easily and reliably estimate monotonic rates from time series data in a way that is statistically robust, facilitates reproducible research and is applicable to a wide variety of research disciplines in the biological sciences.

Journal of Experimental Biology, 220: 759–764.