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Disparities in the analysis of morphological disparity

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  • Thomas Guillerme
  • Natalie Cooper
  • Stephen L Brusatte
  • Andrew L Jackson
  • Sylvain Gerber
  • Anjali Goswami
  • Kevin Healy
  • Melanie J Hopkins
  • Marc E H Jones
  • Graeme T Lloyd
  • Joseph E O'Reilly
  • Abi Pate
  • Mark N Puttick
  • Emily J Rayfield
  • Erin E Saupe
  • Emma Sherratt
  • Graham J Slater
  • Vera Weisbecker
  • Gavin H Thomas
  • Philip C J Donoghue


Publication details

JournalBiology letters
DateAccepted/In press - 5 Jun 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2020
DatePublished (current) - 29 Jul 2020
Issue number7
Number of pages8
Early online date1/07/20
Original languageEnglish


Analyses of morphological disparity have been used to characterize and investigate the evolution of variation in the anatomy, function and ecology of organisms since the 1980s. While a diversity of methods have been employed, it is unclear whether they provide equivalent insights. Here, we review the most commonly used approaches for characterizing and analysing morphological disparity, all of which have associated limitations that, if ignored, can lead to misinterpretation. We propose best practice guidelines for disparity analyses, while noting that there can be no 'one-size-fits-all' approach. The available tools should always be used in the context of a specific biological question that will determine data and method selection at every stage of the analysis.

    Research areas

  • Biological Evolution, Ecology

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