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PeerJ. 2015 Nov 19;3:e1417. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1417. eCollection 2015.

Tools for quantitative form description; an evaluation of different software packages for semi-landmark analysis.

Author information

1
UMR 7179, Mécadev, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique , Paris , France ; Université Denis Diderot (Paris VII) , Paris , France.
2
UMR 7179, Mécadev, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique , Paris , France.
3
UMR 7179, Mécadev, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique , Paris , France ; Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates, Ghent University , Ghent , Belgium.
4
Animal Locomotion Laboratory, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University , Durham, NC , USA.
5
UMR 7205, Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Ecole Publique des Hautes Études , Paris , France.

Abstract

The challenging complexity of biological structures has led to the development of several methods for quantitative analyses of form. Bones are shaped by the interaction of historical (phylogenetic), structural, and functional constrains. Consequently, bone shape has been investigated intensively in an evolutionary context. Geometric morphometric approaches allow the description of the shape of an object in all of its biological complexity. However, when biological objects present only few anatomical landmarks, sliding semi-landmarks may provide good descriptors of shape. The sliding procedure, mandatory for sliding semi-landmarks, requires several steps that may be time-consuming. We here compare the time required by two different software packages ('Edgewarp' and 'Morpho') for the same sliding task, and investigate potential differences in the results and biological interpretation. 'Morpho' is much faster than 'Edgewarp,' notably as a result of the greater computational power of the 'Morpho' software routines and the complexity of the 'Edgewarp' workflow. Morphospaces obtained using both software packages are similar and provide a consistent description of the biological variability. The principal differences between the two software packages are observed in areas characterized by abrupt changes in the bone topography. In summary, both software packages perform equally well in terms of the description of biological structures, yet differ in the simplicity of the workflow and time needed to perform the analyses.

KEYWORDS:

Geometric morphometrics; Sliding semi-landmark; Software comparison

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