Eigenshape analysis of microfossils: A general morphometric procedure for describing changes in shape

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Abstract

A general morphometric procedure is described that organizes collections of microfossil outlines according to their shape. It involves representing the greatest proportion of variation observed among a collection of shapes by the least number of different shapes. Since these are determined as empirical orthogonal shape functions—eigenfunctions—of the observed shapes, the procedure is termed eigenshape analysis. Observed shapes are arranged and their shape differences systemized by reference to these determined eigenshape functions. The well-known ecophenotypic shape variation with latitude exhibited by the Pleistocene planktonic foraminifer Globorotalia truncatulinoides (d'Orbigny)serves as an example.