Size, shape and form: concepts of allometry in geometric morphometrics

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    Allometry refers to the size-related changes of morphological traits and remains an essential concept for the study of evolution and development. This review is the first systematic comparison of allometric methods in the context of geometric morphometrics that considers the structure of morphological spaces and their implications for characterizing allometry and performing size correction. The distinction of two main schools of thought is useful for understanding the differences and relationships between alternative methods for studying allometry. The Gould–Mosimann school defines allometry as the covariation of shape with size. This concept of allometry is implemented in geometric morphometrics through the multivariate regression of shape variables on a measure of size. In the Huxley–Jolicoeur school, allometry is the covariation among morphological features that all contain size information. In this framework, allometric trajectories are characterized by the first principal component, which is a line of best fit to the data points. In geometric morphometrics, this concept is implemented in analyses using either Procrustes form space or conformation space (the latter also known as size-and-shape space). Whereas these spaces differ substantially in their global structure, there are also close connections in their localized geometry. For the model of small isotropic variation of landmark positions, they are equivalent up to scaling. The methods differ in their emphasis and thus provide investigators with flexible tools to address specific questions concerning evolution and development, but all frameworks are logically compatible with each other and therefore unlikely to yield contradictory results.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-137
    JournalDevelopment, Genes and Evolution
    Issue number3
    Early online date1 Apr 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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