Geometric Ecomorphology: Shape Analysis, Taxonomy, Ecology, and the Modeling of Morphological Adaptation


Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 13:30 to 14:30


Classroom B700, Lab3


The Biodiversity and Biocomplexity (Economo) Unit would like to invite you to a seminar by Prof. Norman MacLeod from The Natural History Museum, London, UK.



Date: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2017

Time: 13:30 - 14:30

Venue: Classroom B700, Lab3



Speaker: Prof. Norman MacLeod, The Natural History Museum, London, U.K.



Title: Geometric Ecomorphology: Shape Analysis, Taxonomy, Ecology, and the Modeling of Morphological Adaptation



Studies of morphological adaptation have long aimed to quantify the relation between an organism’s form and its taxonomy and/or ecology. In the past such studies have often been hampered by an over-reliance on either qualitative observations or the collection of a few, simple linear measurements as primary morphological descriptors. Recent advances in morphometric data acquisition and analysis now provide a means of accurately and comprehensively quantifying the morphological variation inherent in complex 2D  landmark configurations, 2D or 3D boundary outlines, and 3D surfaces across any specimen set. The interpretability of morphological variation patterns identified by these methods can be further enhanced by advanced geometric modeling techniques. When combined with single or multiple sources of ecological and/or behavioural information, analyses of these 2D or 3D morphological data can be used to understand how group-specific patterns of morphological variation have responded to a wide variety of evolutionary (taxonomic), ecological, and/or social selection pressures. As a result, these approaches can be used to test specific morphological hypotheses, and so identify the significance of the details of morphological variation, in ways and at spatial scales, that cannot be duplicated by simple visual observation. Thus far investigations in which this approach has proven useful include myriapods, avian raptors, felids, ursids, carnivores (in general), mammals (in general), ungulates, and sauropod dinosaurs. This presentation will review the concepts, data, theory, and results of the application of these techniques in a variety of systematic contexts as an overview. The presentation will conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of this research programme for advancing the field of quantitative ecomorphology.



Bolton, S., N. MacLeod, and G. D. Edgecombe. 2009. Geometric approaches to the taxonomic analysis of centipede gonopods (Chilopoda: Scutigeromorpha). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 156:239–259.

MacLeod, N. 2008. Understanding morphology in systematic contexts: 3D specimen ordination and 3D specimen recognition. Pp. 143–210. In Q. Wheeler, ed. The New Taxonomy. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, London.

MacLeod, N., and K. D. Rose. 1993. Inferring locomotor behavior in Paleogene mammals via eigenshape analysis. American Journal of Science 293-A:300-355.

Figueirido, B., N. MacLeod, J. Krieger, M. De Renzi, J. A. Pérez-Claros, and P. Palmqvist. 2011. Constraint and adaptation in the evolution of carnivoran skull shape. Paleobiology 37(3):490–518.

Sievwright, H., and MacLeod, N., 2012, Eigensurface analysis, ecology, and modelling of morphological adaptation in the falconiform humerus (Falconiformes: Aves): Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, v. 165, p. 390-415.

MacLeod, N., 2017, Morphometrics: history, development methods and prospects: Zoological Systematics, v. 42, no. 1, p. 4–33.




We hope to see many of you at the seminar.



Chisa Oshiro

Biodiversity and Biocomplexity (Economo) Unit

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