Overview of package isocat (Isotope Clustering and Assignment Tools)

Caitlin J. Campbell


Contact Information: Caitlin J. Campbell (caitjcampbell@gmail.com)


The isocat package provides multiple tools for creating and quantitatively analyzing and summarizing probability-of-origin surfaces generated from stable isotope analyses of animal tissue. This vignette will walk users through a brief example for each function included in this vignette.


Loading example data

isocat has example isoscape data included for a small extent of North America.

Example isoscape:

myiso <- rasterFromXYZ(isoscape)

Load example isoscape standard deviation surface:

myiso_sd <- rasterFromXYZ(isoscape_sd)
library(ggplot2,   quietly = TRUE)
library(rasterVis, quietly = TRUE)
library(gridExtra, quietly = TRUE)
gglayers <-  list(
  geom_tile(aes(fill = value)),
  scale_x_continuous(name = "Long", expand = c(0,0)),
  scale_y_continuous(name = "Lat", expand = c(0,0))
lab1 <- list(
  scale_fill_gradient(name = expression(paste(delta, "D (\u2030)")), low = 'grey10', high = 'grey90')

  gplot(myiso) + lab1 + ggtitle("Example Isoscape"), 
  gplot(myiso_sd) + lab1 + ggtitle("Standard Deviation"),
  ncol = 2

Creating a probability-of-origin surface

To create a probability-of-origin map, we first import or generate a dataframe containing:

  1. Individual IDs

  2. Individual-level isotope data, transformed with a transfer function to reflect isoscape values.

  3. Standard deviation of isotope standard measurements, which are associated with machine accuracy.

n <- 6 # Number of example rasters
df <- data.frame(
  ID = LETTERS[1:n], 
  isotopeValue = sample(cellStats(myiso, "min"):cellStats(myiso, "max"), n, replace = TRUE), 
  SD_indv = rep(5, n)
ID isotopeValue SD_indv
A -106.98399 5
B -94.98399 5
C -72.98399 5
D -36.98399 5
E -113.98399 5
F -37.98399 5

The contents of these columns are passed to the function isotopeAssignmentModel as vectors, along with the object names of isoscape and isoscape-SD objects. If parallel processing is specified, the function creates and deploys clusters using the doParallel package. The output is a RasterStack with layers named corresponding to the individual IDs.

assignmentModels <- isotopeAssignmentModel(
  ID = df$ID,
  isotopeValue = df$isotopeValue, 
  SD_indv = df$SD_indv, 
  precip_raster = myiso, 
  precip_SD_raster = myiso_sd, 
  nClusters = FALSE

# Plot.
ggProb <- list(
  facet_wrap(~ variable),
  scale_fill_gradient(name = "Probability\nOf Origin", low = 'darkblue', high = 'yellow') 

gplot(assignmentModels) + gglayers + ggProb

Comparing surfaces

Metric of surface similarity

To compare probability-of-origin surfaces, we apply Schoener’s D metric. To simply compare two surfaces, we can apply isocat’s schoenersD function, which determines Schoener’s D-metric of similarity between two surfaces. The D-value varies between 0 (completely dissimilar surfaces) and 1 (identical surfaces).

To compare multiple surfaces to one another, isocat includes a simmatrixMaker function to create a similarity matrix of the surfaces. The output is a symmetric matrix with row and column names corresponding to the layer names of the surfaces to be compared. The nClusters specification, as in the isotopeAssignmentModel function, generates a number of parallel processing clusters equal to the numeric value specified. If csvSavePath is included, a .csv file will also be written to the path specified. For large RasterStacks, this function can be quite processing-intensive and take some time.

Clustering by similar origins

To cluster individuals by similar origins, isocat relies on the titular function of the package pvclust. The input to this function is the similarity matrix (here, “simmatrix”). Distance measures and clustering methods are detailed in the pvclust package, so for more information on methods discussed here, see:

Clustering with bootstrapping

The default distance measure built into this function is correlational distance, and ‘average’ as a clustering method. The number of bootstrap replications default to 1000, and nClusters specifies how many clusters to initiate for parallel processing through doParallel. The output of this is an object of class “pvclust”.

Clustering without bootstrapping

If bootstrapped clustering is not desired, one could instead apply the hclust function from within the base stats package:

Note that the output of the pvclust analysis also contains a nested object of class “hclust”.

Project Clusters

To divide individuals into a discrete number of groups with common origin, one might apply one or more options. In this example, we cut the tree relating individual origins at a given height. Users might alternatively cut with respect to bootstrap support of given groups, into a certain number of groups, or into groups optimizing k-means or another metric of within-group similarity for D-values or isotope tissue values.

ID isotopeValue SD_indv cluster
A -106.98399 5 1
B -94.98399 5 2
C -72.98399 5 3
D -36.98399 5 4
E -113.98399 5 5
F -37.98399 5 4

Aggregate Surfaces

For each group of individuals of common origin, create an aggregate surface of mean within-group probability of origin using the meanAggregateClusterProbability function. This function returns a RasterStack corresponding to each cluster fed into it. If specified as an integer, nClust parameter interfaces with raster::clusterR to create and apply apply \(n\) multi-core clusters for faster processing.

Summary Surface

To visualize the general regions of a spatial range most associated with each aggregate surface, isocat includes a projectSummaryMaxSurface function. This function associates each cell of a spatial extent with the identity of a discrete RasterLayer the highest relative value at that location. The output is a ratified raster that, in this context, shows the regions of highest relative association with the aggregated origins of groups of individuals. This summary surface is not appropriate for summary statistics (which we recommend be applied to mean aggregate surfaces for individuals sharing common origins, if not to the individual origin maps themselves), but does serve as a visual summary of the relative regions of probable origins of each group.

Post-processing surfaces

The relative strengths and performance of these approaches are explored in Campbell et al.’s “Refining assessment of the geographic origins of animals inferred from stable isotope data” (in prep).

We will use an example probability surface in the following example. Let us also specify a sampling site at point \(i,j\), indicated with a red circle.

p <- isotopeAssignmentModel(
  ID = "Example",
  isotopeValue = sample(-125:-25, 1), 
  SD_indv = 5, 
  precip_raster = myiso, 
  precip_SD_raster = myiso_sd, 
  nClusters = FALSE

# Example Point
pt <- data.frame(x = -100, y = 40)
ptDeets <- list(
    data = pt, 
    col = "red", shape = 1, size = 2,
    aes(x = x, y = y)

ex_plot <- gplot(p) + gglayers + ggProb + ptDeets

ex_hist <- data.frame(x = p[]) %>% 
  ggplot(.) +
  geom_density(aes(x = x)) +
  scale_y_continuous(expand = c(0,0)) +
  scale_x_continuous(name = "Probability Value") +
  theme_bw() +
  geom_vline(aes(xintercept = extract(p, pt)), linetype = "dashed", col = "red")

gridExtra::grid.arrange(ex_plot, ex_hist, ncol = 2, widths = c(2,1)) 

Cumulative Sum




Simulate a distribution fit to known-origin quantile values:

Create quantile-simulation surface: