Multidimensional data are integral to many community-ecological studies and come in various forms, such as stable isotopes, compound specific analyses (e.g., amino acids and fatty acids), and both biodiversity and life history traits. Scientists employing such data often lack standardized metrics to evaluate communities in niche space where more than 2 dimensions are involved. To alleviate this problem, we developed a graphing and analytical approach for use with more than two variables, based on previously established stable isotope bi-plot metrics. We introduce here our community metrics as R scripts. By extending the original metrics to multiple dimensions, we created n-dimensional plots and metrics to characterize any set of quantitative measurements of a community. We demonstrate the utility of these metrics using stable isotope data; however, the approaches are applicable to many types of data. The resulting metrics provide more and better information compared to traditional analytic frameworks. The approach can be applied in many branches of community ecology, and it offers accessible metrics to quantitatively analyze the structure of communities across ecosystems and through time.
Bowes, R. E. et al. Multidimensional metrics of niche space for use with diverse analytical techniques. Sci. Rep. 7, 41599; doi: 10.1038/srep41599 (2017).