Mark Gardener
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Acknowledgements
I am especially grateful to Nigel Massen at Pelagic Publishing for his help and persever
ance throughout the production of this book.
Thanks go to Anne Goodenough for patiently and thoroughly reviewing the manuscript,
your comments and views were most helpful.
With a book of this nature data examples are always useful. Some of the data illustrated
process.
Software used
spreadsheet were used in the preparation of this
although other versions may also be illustrated (including Excel X for Apple Macintosh).
Several versions of the R program were used and illustrated including 2.8.1. for Windows
Downloading free code examples
statistics can be found at:
Reader feedback
We welcome feedback from readers please email us at info@pelagicpublishing.com and
of your email.
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Contents
Introduction viii
1. Planning 1
2. Data recording 23
here, this book is about the processes involved in looking at data. These processes involve
planning what you want to do, writing down what you found and writing up what your
analyses showed. The statistics part is also in there of course but this is not a course
in statistics. By the end I hope that you will have learnt some statistics but in a practical
way, i.e. what statistics can do for you
as well) and a computer program called R. The spreadsheet will allow you to collect your
data in a sensible layout and also do some basic analyses (as well as a few less basic ones).
The R program will do much of the detailed statistical work (although we will also use
Although the emphasis is on ecological work and many of the data examples are of that
sort, I hope that other scientists and students of other disciplines will see relevance to what
they do.
tackle the data, and secondly to present results. We will look at details of graphs and how
to produce them in Excel and R in Section 12.4 where we examine ways to present
analytical methods to examine our data. Indeed we have already seen some examples in
Chapter 4. In this short chapter we will summarise the graphs we might use to help us
explore our data.
data. There are several ways we can illustrate the distribution of a data sample. We may
use a simple tally plot or a stemleaf plot; we can even do this right from our notebook in
1  679
2  112334
2  5666678899
3  01124
3  6
In this example, the data are sorted in numerical order in each row but we can still gain
insights into the data distribution if the numbers are not sorted.
1  967
2  143123
2  9568667869
3  40121
3  6
A simpler version of a stemleaf plot is the tally plot, and in this case we enter the data as
a simple tally mark. In Table 28, we see a tally plot of the same data as our stemleaf plot.
96  Statistics for Ecologists Using R and Excel
Tally Bin
x 16
x 18
x 20
xxx 22
xxx 24
xxxxx 26
xxx 28
xxx 30
xxx 32
x 34
x 36
These are simple plots but nevertheless can be extremely helpful. When we return from
dataset that lie within each size class, represented on the xaxis. We may decide to use a
6. Exploring data using graphs  97
Figure 80. A boxwhisker plot can be used to illustrate data distribution as well as provid
ing other information, e.g. median, interquartiles and max/min
symmetrical about the median stripe. We can use the boxwhisker plot to look at several
98  Statistics for Ecologists Using R and Excel
Another way we can visualise our data is by using a line graph to show the running average
(mean or median). We met this earlier in Section 4.7 where we used the idea to help deter
decision.
illustrate the situation using bar charts or boxwhisker plots. We met the boxwhisker plot
gain some insight into the distribution. A common alternative to the boxwhisker plot is
Figure 85. Multiple scatter plots showing one dependent variable plotted against several
independent variables
than the others; one shows a positive correlation and the other a negative one (although at
6. Exploring data using graphs  101
pie charts to be produced (one for each row or column category, depending on how we
want to look at the data). The pie chart shows the data proportionally, each slice of pie
shows the contribution as a proportion of the total.
Figure 86. A pie chart illustrating categorical data. The proportions of common bird species
in a garden habitat
When we have this kind of data we can always represent it in the form of a bar chart
instead. The advantage of the bar chart is that we can show several categories at one time
Figure 87. A bar chart illustrating categorical data. The number of common garden birds in
various habitats
102  Statistics for Ecologists Using R and Excel
included a legend on the graph so the reader can identify the various bars more easily.
and make important decisions about the analytical approach (Table 29). We should also
use graphs to illustrate our data, which can make them more comprehensible to readers.
When we present graphs we should ensure they are fully labelled and as clear as possible.
Even when we use graphs for our own use it is good practice to label and title them fully.

sary produce two graphs rather than one.
Give a main title explaining what the graph shows. Usually this is done as a caption in a
word processor. The caption should enable a reader to understand what the graph shows
sure you describe the graph so that someone else can understand it.
We will examine graphs in more detail in Chapter 12, which will also cover he presentation
of results. Sections 12.4.1 and 12.5 will deal with producing graphs in R and Section 12.4.3
will cover producing graphs in Excel. We will also make some references to graphs in each
of the sections dealing with the details of the various analytical methods. It is important to
remember that our graphical analysis should go alongside the mathematical one.
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