Because nlme won't do it for you.
The nlme model object
For models with heterogeneous variance, i.e. that contain something like varIdent(form = ~1|Group), nlme returns a result in the summary regarding the variances that many do not know what to do with, nor likely would be what they would want to report. I rarely do these models with nlme, and have only played around with the varIdent case. This function ' will save me a little trouble in demos I do, but I have no plans to do any more with it.
A vector of the estimates on the variance scale.
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