, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 61–77 | Cite as

Ordination techniques for analysing response of biological communities to toxic stress in experimental ecosystems

  • René P. A. Van Wijngaarden
  • Paul J. Van Den Brink
  • Jan H. Oude Voshaar
  • Peter Leeuwangh


The ordination techniques principal component analysis (PCA) and redundancy analysis (RDA) are considered to be useful tools for evaluating community responses in experimental ecotoxicology. Concepts and interpretation of these techniques are summarized. Application of PCA and RDA is illustrated in a case study. In this study, the effects of a single application of the insecticide Dursban® 4E (a.i. chlorpyrifos) on an aquatic macroinvertebrate community in microcosms were analysed. Four treatment (nominal chlorpyrifos concentration: 35 μg l-1) and four control microcosms were used. PCA visualized a change in species composition with time. Immediately after treatment, a major shift in species composition occurred in treated microcosms. RDA demonstrated that this shift was due to the treatment. RDA also showed that non-arthropods were generally insusceptible to chlorpyrifos; most arthropods were affected. Dynamics of separate taxa were visualized, giving indications of possible primary and secondary effects for these taxa. A Monte Carlo permutation test was used to decide whether treatment had a significant effect on the species composition and to investigate the state of recovery in time. In general, the RDA results gave an adequate condensation of detailed information on abundance and effects obtained by more conventional univariate statistical analysis for some individual taxa of the community. In combination with toxicity and ecological data, ordination techniques can provide insight into effects of toxic substances in complex biological communities.


chlorpyrifos ordination macroinvertebrates microcosms Monte Carlo permutation 


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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • René P. A. Van Wijngaarden
    • 1
  • Paul J. Van Den Brink
    • 1
  • Jan H. Oude Voshaar
    • 2
  • Peter Leeuwangh
    • 1
  1. 1.DLO Winand Staring Centre for Integrated Land, Soil and Water Research (SC-DLO)WageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.DLO Agricultural Mathematical Group (GLW-DLO)WageningenThe Netherlands

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