News from the International Committee on Phytolith Morphometry
In 2022, the International Committee on Phytolith Morphometry (ICPM) launched a new project to study inter- and intra-observer variation in phytolith morphometry.
Phytolith researchers from different labs worldwide measured the same set of images of bilobate, bulliform, and dendritic phytolith morphotypes to statistically examine the range of variation and extent of observer bias inherent in phytolith morphometry. This foundational study of repeatability in phytolith morphometry is important for phytolith science because phytolith researchers are increasingly using morphometric data of phytoliths from archaeological sites and sedimentary deposits compared with modern phytolith reference material to differentiate plant taxa, during which inter- and intra-observer variation may occur. Based on the results, the ICPM will formulate recommendations to maximize repeatability in phytolith morphometry.
The project is financially supported by the Hugo de Vries Fonds in the Netherlands and Moesgaard Museum in Denmark. Preliminary results were presented at the 19th Conference of the International Workgroup for Palaeoethnobotany, June 2022 in the Czech Republic (https://archaeobotany.org/event/iwgp-2022/).