, Volume 69, Issue 1-3, pp 69-77

The analysis of vegetation-environment relationships by canonical correspondence analysis

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Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) is introduced as a multivariate extension of weighted averaging ordination, which is a simple method for arranging species along environmental variables. CCA constructs those linear combinations of environmental variables, along which the distributions of the species are maximally separated. The eigenvalues produced by CCA measure this separation.

As its name suggests, CCA is also a correspondence analysis technique, but one in which the ordination axes are constrained to be linear combinations of environmental variables. The ordination diagram generated by CCA visualizes not only a pattern of community variation (as in standard ordination) but also the main features of the distributions of species along the environmental variables. Applications demonstrate that CCA can be used both for detecting species-environment relations, and for investigating specific questions about the response of species to environmental variables. Questions in community ecology that have typically been studied by ‘indirect’ gradient analysis (i.e. ordination followed by external interpretation of the axes) can now be answered more directly by CCA.

Nomenclature follows Heukels-Van der Meijden (1983). Flora van Nederland, 20th ed.
I would like to thank the authors of the example data sets for permission to use their data, Drs M. O. Hill and H. G. Gauch for permission to use the code of the program DECORANA, and Drs I. C. Prentice, L. C. A. Corsten, P. F. M. Verdonschot, P. W. Goedhart and P. F. G. Vereijken for comments on the manuscript.