Multivariate methods for ecologists

Last changed: 31 August 2021
An ordination plot with plant species names, graph.

The Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment and the Research school Focus on Soil and Water at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences invites PhD students to attend the course "Multivariate methods for ecologists".

NOTE: Due to the Corona pandemic, the course will be entirely on-line.


Applications should be sent by e-mail to James Weldon ( The application should contain:

  • Name
  • Personnummer/Civil registration number
  • Affiliation (including post address)
  • Will take only Part 1 or the Full course (see below)
  • A pdf (or corresponding) of a certificate stating that you are a PhD student.

There are a limited number of places at the course. Attendants will be accepted in the order we receive the applications, i.e. first come, first served! We have 30 placed on the course.

Last day for application is 15 October 2021.

Post Doc researchers may attend the lectures if there is room. Send a corresponding application, but tell that you are a post doc researcher!


The course is given in two parts: The first part involves on-line lectures and supervised computer exercises, and the second involves supervised individual work with own data at your own office. Course participants may register for either the first or both parts of the course.

  • Part 1: 1 week, 25 October - 29 October 2021, over Zoom.
  • Part 2: 2 weeks, directly after part 1, i.e. 1-12 November 2021. At your own office. Last day will be a compulsory seminar, also over Zoom.


The course is open for PhD students. We cannot accept undergraduate students. Post Doc researches are welcome only if there is place.


A basic course in ordinary statistics is recommended. We also recommend that participants should be familiar with R and RStudio and be able to run R scripts, but programing experience in R is not necessary.  

Students taking part 2 of the course must have own data to work with.


The course aims to illustrate the application of number of multivariate methods on ecological data. Following the course, participants should be familiar with different multivariate techniques, and how they can be applied on various types of data. The course will focus on developing an understanding of the application of multivariate techniques, with only a minimum amount of effort placed on comprehending the underlying mathematical details.

After the course, the students should be able to analyse multivariate ecological data, using R.


A number of ordination and classification procedures will be demonstrated, such as cluster analysis, correspondence analysis (CA), canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), redundancy analysis (RDA), principal components analysis (PCA), partial least square-analysis (PLS) e. The course literature consists of 10 papers that will be available on the course web page.

Requirements for examination and Credits

  • For part 1: Pass on all exercises during the first course week and pass on the home assignment. Presence at least at 80% of the lectures.
  • For part 2: Approved oral and written report from the project.

Students will receive 3 ECTS credits for the first (lecture) part and 4.5 ECTS credits for completing the whole course.


Due to the current Corona pandemic, the whole course will be given on-line using Zoom.


All assignments are based on R. There is no need for previous knowledge in R programming. There will be ready scripts for all exercises.


Ulf Grandin, Martyn Futter, Lars Sonesten, James Weldon and Hannah Fried-Petersen.

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Last update of information: 31 August 2021

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