You should be aware that estimating power spectra using a periodogram is not recommended, and in fact has been bad practice since ~ 1896. It is an inconsistent estimator for anything less than millions of data samples (and even then ...), and generally biased. The exact same thing applies to using standard estimates of autocorrelations (i.e. Bartlett), as they are Fourier transform pairs. Provided you are using a consistent estimator, there are some options available to you.
The best of these is a multiple window (or taper) estimate of the power spectra. In this case, by using the coefficients of each window at a frequency of interest, you can compute a Harmonic F Statistic against a null hypothesis of white noise. This is an excellent tool for detection of line components in noise, and is highly recommended. It is the default choice in the signal-processing community for detection of periodicities in noise under assumption of stationarity.
You can access both the multitaper method of spectrum estimation and the associated F-test via the
multitaper package in R (available via CRAN). The documentation that comes with the package should be enough to get you going; the F-test is a simple option in the function call for
The original reference that defines both of these techniques and gives the algorithms for them is Spectrum Estimation and Harmonic Analysis, D.J. Thomson, Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 70, pg. 1055-1096, 1982.
Here is an example using the included data set with the
resSpec <- spec.mtm(willamette, k=10, nw=5.0, nFFT = "default",
centreWithSlepians = TRUE, Ftest = TRUE,
jackknife = FALSE, maxAdaptiveIterations = 100,
plot = TRUE, na.action = na.fail)
The parameters you should be aware of are k and nw: these are the number of windows (set to 10 above) and the time-bandwidth product (5.0 above). You can easily leave these at these quasi-default values for most applications. The centreWithSlepians command removes a robust estimate of the mean of the time series using a projection onto Slepian windows -- this is also recommended, as leaving the mean in produces a lot of power at the low frequencies.
I would also recommend plotting the spectrum output from 'spec.mtm' on a log scale, as it cleans things up significantly. If you need more information, just post and I'm happy to provide it.