A Comparison of Semilandmarking Approaches in the Visualisation of Shape Differences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In landmark-based analyses of size and shape variation and covariation among biological structures, regions lacking clearly identifiable homologous landmarks are commonly described by semilandmarks. Different algorithms may be used to apply semilandmarks, but little is known about the consequences of analytical results. Here, we assess how different approaches and semilandmarking densities affect the estimates and visualisations of mean and allometrically scaled surfaces. The performance of three landmark-driven semilandmarking approaches is assessed using two different surface mesh datasets with different degrees of variation and complexity: adult human head and ape cranial surfaces. Surfaces fitted to estimates of the mean and allometrically scaled landmark and semilandmark configurations arising from geometric morphometric analyses of these datasets are compared between semilandmarking approaches and different densities, as well as with those from warping to landmarks alone. We find that estimates of surface mesh shape (i.e., after re-semilandmarking and then re-warping) made with varying numbers of semilandmarks are generally consistent, while the warping of surfaces using landmarks alone yields surfaces that can be quite different to those based on semilandmarks, depending on landmark coverage and choice of template surface for warping. The extent to which these differences are important depends on the particular study context and aims.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages36
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 by the authors

Cite this