Geometric morphometric methods of capturing information about curves or outlines of organismal structures may be used in conjunction with canonical variates analysis (CVA) to assign specimens to groups or populations based on their shapes. This methodological paper examines approaches to optimizing the classification of specimens based on their outlines. This study examines the performance of four approaches to the mathematical representation of outlines and two different approaches to curve measurement as applied to a collection of feather outlines. A new approach to the dimension reduction necessary to carry out a CVA on this type of outline data with modest sample sizes is also presented, and its performance is compared to two other approaches to dimension reduction.
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