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The relative success of some methods for measuring and describing the shape of complex objects

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journal contribution
posted on 1998-06-01, 00:00 authored by T McLellan, John EndlerJohn Endler
We examined and compared several morphometric methods for describing complex shapes. We chose the leaves of maples (Acer) and other tree species because they can all be visually discriminated from each other solely by leaf shape. We digitized the leaf outlines with a video camera and then examined the outlines with several morphometric methods to determine the extent to which margin details could be quantified and compared. Elliptic Fourier analysis provides complete and accurate descriptions of complex outlines and can be used to reconstruct images accurately. We compared several metrics that summarize overall shape complexity. A new measure of margin roughness is useful for quantifying and comparing margin detail independently of overall shape. Fractal dimension is highly correlated with the ratio of perimeter to area (dissection index) and reveals little additional information about shape. In combination, the summaries of shape complexity provide good discrimination of groups. We used canonical discriminant analysis to compare methods for outlines to traditional morphometric analysis of measurements taken between landmark points. Groups were discriminated from each other more clearly with outline methods than with landmark-based analyses.

History

Journal

Systematic biology

Volume

47

Pagination

264-281

Location

Oxford, Eng.

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

1063-5157

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

1998, Society of Systematic Biologists

Issue

2

Publisher

Oxford University Press