Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 2 (2016)

Selection of landmarks and semilandmarks in fishes for geometric morphometric analyses: a comparative study based on analytical methods

Marc Farré
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Víctor M. Tuset
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Francesc Maynou
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Laura Recasens
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain

Antoni Lombarte
Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC , Spain


We applied and compared three different sets of landmarks and semilandmarks commonly used in studies of fish assemblages to identify a standardized method of landmark selection that includes the maximum amount of morphological information of species. The different landmark-based methods used produced differences regarding the distribution of case-study species within the morphospace. We suggest that adding landmarks and semilandmarks that provide more specific information about anatomical structures with important roles in the biology of species, such as transformed fins or sensory organs, contributes to a clearer differentiation of species within the morphospace and a better interpretation of their occupancy. In addition, three types of method were used to establish how species are distributed within morphospace. The results demonstrated that aggregation points methods, including analyses based on quadrants or distances, are more appropriate for this purpose than indices of morphological disparity. The results also confirmed that although numerical methods are needed to test the statistical significance of outcomes, graphical methods provide a more intuitive interpretation of morphospace occupancy. The kernel density and Gabriel graph were useful to infer the morphospace zone where species are more densely grouped, improving the knowledge of space occupancy and structural complexity of fish assemblages.


morphological traits; landmarks; geometric morphometrics; diversity; point pattern; morphospace; marine fishes

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