Path analysis: a statistical method suited to ecological data.
- Grasslands Division Substation, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Lincoln.
Path analysis is a statistical method akin to multiple regression in fitting a quantitative linear relationship between variables. It has the further advantages of handling simultaneously complex multistage interactions.
Examples are given of its use in determining relationship where there are few variables, many variables, curvilinear relations, feedback interactions, and where a priori quantitative information is available from other sources.
The technique is also discussed in terms of the general problem of synthesis of ecological data. It is concluded that the basic concepts of cause and effect among groups of variables and their combination in a multistage causal scheme are applicable in all situations, while the curve fitting properties of the technique and the ability to combine a priori quantitative data from several sources, provide a valuable means of synthesis at the empirical stages of a problem.