Question: Are there spatial structures in the composition of plant communities? Methods: Identification and measurement of spatial structures is a topic of great interest in plant ecology. Univariate measurements of spatial autocorrelation such as Moran's I and Geary's c are widely used, but extensions to the multivariate case (i.e. multi-species) are rare. Here, we propose a multivariate spatial analysis based on Moran's I (MULTISPATI) by introducing a row-sum standardized spatial weight matrix in the statistical triplet notation. This analysis, which is a generalization of Wartenberg's approach to multivariate spatial correlation, would imply a compromise between the relations among many variables (multivariate analysis) and their spatial structure (autocorrelation). MULTISPATI approach is very flexible and can handle various kinds of data (quantitative and/or qualitative data, contingency tables). A study is presented to illustrate the method using a spatial version of Correspondence Analysis. Location: Territoire d'Etude et d'Expérimentation de Trois-Fontaines (eastern France). Results: Ordination of vegetation plots by this spatial analysis is quite robust with reference to rare species and highlights spatial patterns related to soil properties.
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