Phalacrocorax is a genus of fish-eating birds in the cormorant family Phalacrocoracidae. Members of this genus are also known as the Old World cormorants.

Phalacrocorax carbo Vic.jpg
Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Family: Phalacrocoracidae
Genus: Phalacrocorax
Brisson, 1760
Type species
Pelecanus carbo

12, see text

  • Stictocarbo
  • Nanocorax (in part)
  • Anocarbo


The genus Phalacrocorax was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) as the type species.[1][2] Phalacrocorax is the Latin word for a "cormorant".[3]

Formerly, many other species of cormorant were classified in Phalacrocorax, but most of these have been split out into different genera. A 2014 study found Phalacrocrax to be the sister genus to Urile, which are thought to have split from each other between 8.9 - 10.3 million years ago.[4]

Current taxonomyEdit

A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2014 found that the genus Phalacrocorax contains 12 species.[4] This taxonomy was adopted by the IUCN Red List and BirdLife International, and later by the IOC.[5]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Phalacrocorax neglectus Bank cormorant or Wahlberg's cormorant Namibia and the western seaboard of South Africa
  Phalacrocorax nigrogularis Socotra cormorant Arabian Peninsula.
  Phalacrocorax featherstoni Pitt shag or Featherstone's shag Pitt Island.
  Phalacrocorax punctatus Spotted shag New Zealand.
  Phalacrocorax fuscescens Black-faced cormorant Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania
  Phalacrocorax varius Australian pied cormorant or yellow-faced cormorant Australasia, New Zealand
  Phalacrocorax sulcirostris Little black cormorant Australia and northern New Zealand
  Phalacrocorax fuscicollis Indian cormorant Indian Subcontinent west to Sind and east to Thailand and Cambodia.
  Phalacrocorax capensis Cape cormorant the Congo, and up the east coast of South Africa as far as Mozambique.
  Phalacrocorax capillatus Japanese cormorant or Temminck's cormorant Taiwan, north through Korea and Japan, to the Russian Far East.
  Phalacrocorax lucidus White-breasted cormorant the Cape Verde Islands to Guinea-Bissau and from Angola to the Cape of Good Hope and northwards on the east coast to Mozambique.
  Phalacrocorax carbo Great cormorant or black shag the Old World, Australia, and the Atlantic coast of North America.

Alternative taxonomiesEdit

Formerly, the genus Phalacrocorax included all members of the genera Poikilocarbo, Urile, Gulosus, Nannopterum, and the rock shag of Leucocarbo, all of which are now understood to belong to different genera.[6]

The taxonomy adopted by the Clements Checklist classifies all cormorants aside from those already in Microcarbo into Phalacrocorax, leaving just two cormorant genera: Phalacrocorax and Microcarbo.


  1. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode Contenant la Division des Oiseaux en Ordres, Sections, Genres, Especes & leurs Variétés (in French and Latin). Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. Vol. 1, p. 60, Vol. 6, p. 511.
  2. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 163.
  3. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2019). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Classification of the cormorants of the world". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 79: 249–257. 2014-10-01. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.06.020. ISSN 1055-7903.
  5. ^ "Taxonomic Updates – IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  6. ^ Kennedy, M.; Spencer, H.G. (2014). "Classification of the cormorants of the world". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 79: 249–257. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.06.020. PMID 24994028.