A Comparison of Semilandmarking Approaches in the Analysis of Size and Shape

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Often, few landmarks can be reliably identified in analyses of form variation and covariation. Thus, 'semilandmarking' algorithms have increasingly been applied to surfaces and curves. However, the locations of semilandmarks depend on the investigator's choice of algorithm and their density. In consequence, to the extent that different semilandmarking approaches and densities result in different locations of semilandmarks, they can be expected to yield different results concerning patterns of variation and co-variation. The extent of such differences due to methodology is, as yet, unclear and often ignored. In this study, the performance of three landmark-driven semilandmarking approaches is assessed, using two different surface mesh datasets (ape crania and human heads) with different degrees of variation and complexity, by comparing the results of morphometric analyses. These approaches produce different semilandmark locations, which, in turn, lead to differences in statistical results, although the non-rigid semilandmarking approaches are consistent. Morphometric analyses using semilandmarks must be interpreted with due caution, recognising that error is inevitable and that results are approximations. Further work is needed to investigate the effects of using different landmark and semilandmark templates and to understand the limitations and advantages of different semilandmarking approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2023

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