Date: 30 Jan 2010

Prospectus: The Future of Morphometrics

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The field of morphometrics has transitioned relatively smoothly through several different phases, from D’Arcy Thompson’s (1917) extraordinary and influential treatise on growth and form, through the influx of algebraic and statistical methods related to eigenanalysis, cluster analysis, and multidimensional scaling, to direct landmark-based Procrustes and deformation methods that echo Thompson’s original intents and insights. In a sense, the discipline is still riding the wave of methodological advances that began in the 1970s (Adams et al. 2004). Although it is difficult to predict to direction of future methodological advances, it is certain that morphometric methods will be extended to areas currently at the periphery of current applications, such as the use of morphometrics to study the effects of quantitative trait loci (Klingenberg et al. 2001; Klingenberg 2003; Leamy et al. 2008) and the sizes and shapes of molecules (Billoud et al. 2000; Bookstein 2004; Rogen and Bohr 2003). However, even given the current level of methodological sophistication, there are still some important technical and conceptual problems to be solved in the shorter term. I will briefly highlight just a few of these here.