Meta-analysis provides formal statistical techniques for summarizing the re
sults of independent experiments and is increasingly being used in ecology.
The response ratio (the ratio of mean outcome in the experimental group to
that in the control group) and closely related measures of proportionate c
hange are often used as measures of effect magnitude in ecology. Using thes
e metrics for meta-analysis requires knowledge of their statistical propert
ies, but these have not been previously derived. We give the approximate sa
mpling distribution of the log response ratio, discuss why it is a particul
arly useful metric for many applications in ecology, and demonstrate how to
use it in meta-analysis. The meta-analysis of response-ratio data is illus
trated using experimental data on the effects of increased atmospheric CO2
on plant biomass responses.