• Multivariate analysis;
  • clustering;
  • flow cytometry;
  • aquatic sciences


Flow cytometry has recently been introduced in aquatic ecology. Its unique feature is to measure several optical characteristics simultaneously on a large number of cells. Until now, these data have generally been analyzed in simple ways, e. g., frequency histograms and bivariate scatter diagrams, so that the multivariate potential of the data has not been fully exploited. This paper presents a way of answering ecologically meaningful questions, using the multivariate characteristics of the data. In order to do so, the multivariate data are reduced to a small number of classes by clustering, which reduces the data to a categorical variable. Multivariate pairwise comparisons can then be performed among samples using these new data vectors. The test case presented in the paper forms a time series of observations from which the new method enables us to study on the temporal evolution of cell types.