Principal component analysis applied to harbour porpoise fatty acid data

Joliffe, I.T.; Learmouth, J.A.; Pierce, G.J.; Santos, M.B.; Trendafilov, N.; Zuur, A.F.; Ieno, E.N. and Smith, G.M. (2007). Principal component analysis applied to harbour porpoise fatty acid data. In: Zuur, Alain F.; Ieno, Elena N. and Smith, Graham M. eds. Analysing Ecological Data. Statistics for biology and health. New York: Springer, pp. 515–528.



In this chapter we apply principal component analysis (PCA) to data on blubber fatty acid composition in harbour porpoises. Various decisions need to be made when using PCA. As well as showing the usefulness of the dimension reduction achieved by PCA for these data, the implications of these decisions will also be illustrated. The next two sections of the chapter describe the data and the statistical technique respectively. A data exploration section is followed by the main section (Section 29.5), which describes and discusses the results of PCA for the data. Interpretation of principal components can sometimes be difficult and several methods have been suggested for simplyifying interpretation. These will be discussed in Section 29.6, and one of them will be illustrated on the fatty acid data. The chapter is completed by a short discussion section.

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