The English language literature abounds with books that focus on the application of exploratory multivariate analysis to biological problems. Most of these books, however, are specialized to a certain area of biology, and do not place the contents into a general literature, leading to an undesirable isolation of different fields. To give an exhaustive treatment of the subject matter in a single book is obviously a difficult if not impossible task, but I attempt to collect at least the major aspects in a format somewhere between the reference books and postgraduate texts. The chapters were written to illustrate the high diversity of the topic and to illuminate as many approaches to data exploration as possible. The literature reviews each following chapter, and the extensive bibliography at the end of the book will facilitate further orientation for readers wishing to get more insight into a particular problem. Selected computer packages, without which data exploration would be an impossible adventure, are also discussed and characterized in brief.
Attention is focussed on the 'supraindividual' biological level, for example plant ecology, phytosociology and taxonomy, showing that I am somewhat predisposed towards these typically multivariate subjects. Of course, the 'multivariate situation' appears much more often in biology. Fortunately, the contents of the book can be easily 'translated' to fit any other areas of biological sciences. It is the reader who should take the (hopefully simple) job of adapting the jargon to his/her own field of interest. For example, if quadrats or other sampling units and species occurring in them are mantioned in the context of vegetation science, then these terms should be replaced in your mind by the most appropriate type and name of object and variable.
1. Sampling, data types
2. The data matrix and data transformation
3. Distance, similarity, correlation
4. Non-hierarchical classification
5. Hierarchical clustering
8. Matrix rearrangement
9. Comparative evaluation of result
2000, vi and 407 pages with 137 figures and 31 tables.