Mantel's test, or the Mantel test is named after a biostatistician named Nathan Mantel who first published the test in 1967 (1). It's primary use is for spacial analysis in the field of ecology. Mantel's test is a regression where the variables are distance matrices. Because it stems from a distance matrix (also known as dissimilarity matrix) it can be used with variables from different logical types. This allows scientists to compare the distances they have measured against other parameters of the ecosystem. Mantel's test is especially useful because it recognizes the distances being entered as points in space, instead of a number of individuals in an area (2). This makes it much easier to describe the relationships that various biotic or abiotic components have with ecosystems.
Mantel's Test is also used to determine the genetic similarities of intraspecific individuals. It allows for the quantification of differences between genomes, which can then be measured between every possible pair of individuals in the sample (1). Mantel's Test is not universal, and will not provide accurate results in all situations. For instance, some levels of spacial autocorrelation will result in extremely low p-values (1).
1. Mantel test. (2015, February 3). Retrieved March 24, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantel_test
2. Mantel's Test. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2015, from http://www.stat.ncsu.edu/people/fuentes/courses/madrid/lectures/mantel.html