The limited value of traditional morphometric features in stromatoporoid taxonomy



The morphological variation of stromatoporoids, which are solitary organisms, is partitioned into its presumably genetic and environmental components. Potentially heritable, environmentally mediated and residual components of morphological variability were estimated in a test set containing Devonian stromatoporoids of the genus Gerronostromaria from southern Poland using analysis of variance. The taxonomic importance of traditional morphometric features is limited, because they are dominated by the intra-skeletal component of variance. Conventional metrics were therefore replaced by stereological and textural quantities. Both stereological and textural features are dominated by the inter-skeletal and inter-locality components of variation and thus may be valuable in taxonomic and environmental studies of stromatoporoids. Statistical analyses of these characters (principal component analysis and cluster analysis) were performed. Of 13 characters considered most useful in taxonomic studies, only five have been used previously in conventional species definitions.