Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy of birds

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The Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy is a bird taxonomy proposed by Charles Sibley and Jon E. Ahlquist. It is based on DNA–DNA hybridization studies conducted in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.[1]

DNA–DNA hybridization is among a class of comparative techniques in molecular biology that produce distance data (versus character data) and that can be analyzed to produce phylogenetic reconstructions only using phenetic tree-building algorithms. In DNA–DNA hybridization, the percent similarity of DNA between two species is estimated by the reduction in hydrogen bonding between nucleotides of imperfectly complemented heteroduplex DNA (i.e., double stranded DNAs that are experimentally produced from single strands of two different species), compared with perfectly matched homoduplex DNA (both strands of DNA from the same species).

Characteristics edit

The classification appears to be an early example of cladistic classification because it codifies many intermediate levels of taxa: the "trunk" of the family tree is the class Aves, which branches into subclasses, which branch into infraclasses, and then "parvclasses", superorders, orders, suborders, infraorders, "parvorders", superfamilies, families, subfamilies, tribes, subtribes and finally genera and species. However the classification study did not employ modern cladistic methods, as it relies strictly on DNA-DNA hybridization as the sole measure of similarity.

The Sibley–Ahlquist arrangement differs greatly from the more traditional approach used in the Clements taxonomy.




Other birds






Basal divergences of modern birds
in the Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy

Showing major changes from Clements, the Sibley–Ahlquist orders are as follows:

  • Enlarged Struthioniformes replaces the ratite orders Rheiformes (rheas), Casuariiformes (cassowaries and emus), and Apterygiformes (kiwis) and Struthioniformes (ostriches).
  • Tinamiformes (tinamous) is unchanged.
  • A greatly enlarged Ciconiiformes includes the previous Sphenisciformes (penguins), Gaviiformes (divers), Podicipediformes (grebes), Procellariiformes (tubenoses), Pelecaniformes (pelicans and allies), Ciconiiformes (storks and allies), Falconiformes (birds of prey), Charadriiformes (waders, gulls, terns, and auks), and the family Pteroclidae (sandgrouse).
  • Anseriformes (ducks and allies) is unchanged.
  • Modified Galliformes landfowl. Chachalacas moved to Craciformes.
  • New Craciformes chachalacas etc. Previously part of Galliformes.
  • New Ralliformes rails and crakes. Previously part of Gruiformes
  • Modified Gruiformes Cranes. Rails and button-quails moved to Ralliformes and Turniciformes, respectively.
  • New Turniciformes button-quails etc. Previously part of Gruiformes.
  • Modified Columbiformes doves. Sandgrouse moved to Ciconiiformes.
  • Psittaciformes cockatoos and parrots unchanged.
  • New Musophagiformes turacos. Previously part of Cuculiformes.
  • Modified Cuculiformes cuckoos. Turacos moved to Musophagiformes.
  • Modified Strigiformes owls. Enlarged to include Caprimulgiformes (nightjars, owlet-nightjars, frogmouths, oilbirds, potoos).
  • Modified Apodiformes swifts. Hummingbirds moved to Trochiliformes.
  • New Trochiliformes hummingbirds. Previously part of Apodiformes.
  • Coliiformes mousebirds unchanged.
  • Trogoniformes trogons unchanged.
  • Modified Coraciiformes rollers.
  • New Upupiformes Hoopoe. Previously part of Coraciiformes.
  • New Bucerotiformes hornbills. Previously part of Coraciiformes.
  • New Galbuliformes jacamars and puffbirds. Previously part of Piciformes.
  • Modified Piciformes woodpeckers
  • Passeriformes perching birds unchanged.

Some of these changes are minor adjustments. For instance, instead of putting the swifts, treeswifts, and hummingbirds in the same order that includes nothing else, Sibley and Ahlquist put them in the same superorder that includes nothing else, consisting of one order for the hummingbirds and another for the swifts and treeswifts. In other words, they still regard the swifts as the hummingbirds' closest relatives.

Other changes are much more drastic. The penguins were traditionally regarded as distant from all other living birds. For instance, Wetmore put them in a superorder by themselves, with all other non-ratite birds in a different superorder. Sibley and Ahlquist, though, put penguins in the same superfamily as divers (loons), tubenoses, and frigatebirds. According to their phylogenetic analysis, penguins are closer to those birds than herons are to storks.[2]

The Galloanseres (waterfowl and landfowl) has found widespread acceptance. The DNA evidence of Sibley–Ahlquist for the monophyly of the group is supported by the discovery of the fossil bird Vegavis iaai, an essentially modern but most peculiar waterfowl that lived near Cape Horn some 66-68 million years ago, still in the age of the dinosaurs.[3]

Classification edit

Parvclass Superorder Order Families Note on current status
Infraclass Eoaves
Ratitae Struthioniformes
  1. Struthionidae
  2. Rheidae
  3. Casuariidae
  4. Apterygidae
  1. Tinamidae
Galloanserae Gallomorphae Craciformes
  1. Cracidae
  2. Megapodiidae
Families included in Galliformes.
  1. Phasianidae
  2. Numididae
  3. Odontophoridae
Anserimorphae Anseriformes
  1. Anhimidae
  2. Anseranatidae
  3. Dendrocygnidae
  4. Anatidae
Infraclass Neoaves
Turnicae Turniciformes
  1. Turnicidae
Included in Charadriiformes.
Picae Piciformes
  1. Indicatoridae
  2. Picidae
  3. Megalaimidae
  4. Lybiidae
  5. Ramphastidae

Coraciae Galbulimorphae Galbuliformes
  1. Galbulidae
  2. Bucconidae
Families included in Piciformes by most authorities.
Bucerotimorphae Bucerotiformes
  1. Bucerotidae
  2. Bucorvidae
  1. Upupidae
  2. Phoeniculidae
  3. Rhinopomastidae
Families included in Bucerotiformes by most authorities.
Coraciimorphae Trogoniformes
  1. Trogonidae
  1. Coraciidae
  2. Brachypteraciidae
  3. Leptosomidae
  4. Momotidae
  5. Todidae
  6. Alcedinidae
  7. Halcyonidae
  8. Cerylidae
  9. Meropidae
Coliae Coliiformes
  1. Coliidae
Passerae Cuculimorphae Cuculiformes
  1. Cuculidae
  2. Centropodidae
  3. Coccyzidae
  4. Opisthocomidae
  5. Crotophagidae
  6. Neomorphidae
Opisthocomidae now place in own order, Opisthocomiformes.
Psittacimorphae Psittaciformes
  1. Psittacidae
Apodimorphae Apodiformes
  1. Apodidae
  2. Hemiprocnidae
Included in Caprimulgiformes by most authorities.

Otherwise in enlarged Apodiformes.

  1. Trochilidae
Strigimorphae Musophagiformes
  1. Musophagidae
  1. Tytonidae
  2. Strigidae
  3. Aegothelidae
  4. Podargidae
  5. Batrachostomidae
  6. Steatornithidae
  7. Nyctibiidae
  8. Eurostopodidae
  9. Caprimulgidae
Strigiformes restricted to owls (Tytonidae, Strigidae)

Other families are placed in Caprimulgiformes.

Passerimorphae Columbiformes
  1. Raphidae
  2. Columbidae
  1. Eurypygidae
  2. Otididae
  3. Gruidae
  4. Aramidae
  5. Heliornithidae
  6. Psophiidae
  7. Cariamidae
  8. Rhynochetidae
  9. Rallidae
  10. Mesitornithidae
Gruiformes found to be polyphyletic:
  1. Pteroclidae
  2. Thinocoridae
  3. Pedionomidae
  4. Scolopacidae
  5. Rostratulidae
  6. Jacanidae
  7. Chionidae
  8. Pluvianellidae
  9. Burhinidae
  10. Charadriidae
  11. Glareolidae
  12. Laridae
  13. Accipitridae
  14. Sagittariidae
  15. Falconidae
  16. Podicipedidae
  17. Phaethontidae
  18. Sulidae
  19. Anhingidae
  20. Phalacrocoracidae
  21. Ardeidae
  22. Scopidae
  23. Phoenicopteridae
  24. Threskiornithidae
  25. Pelecanidae
  26. Ciconiidae
  27. Fregatidae
  28. Spheniscidae
  29. Gaviidae
  30. Procellariidae
Ciconiiformes found to be polyphyletic and now restricted to storks (Ciconiidae).

The other families are distributed between:

  1. Acanthisittidae
  2. Pittidae
  3. Eurylaimidae
  4. Philepittidae
  5. Tyrannidae
  6. Thamnophilidae
  7. Furnariidae
  8. Formicariidae
  9. Conopophagidae
  10. Rhinocryptidae
  11. Climacteridae
  12. Menuridae
  13. Ptilonorhynchidae
  14. Maluridae
  15. Meliphagidae
  16. Pardalotidae
  17. Petroicidae
  18. Irenidae
  19. Orthonychidae
  20. Pomatostomidae
  21. Laniidae
  22. Vireonidae
  23. Corvidae
  24. Callaeatidae
  25. Picathartidae
  26. Bombycillidae
  27. Cinclidae
  28. Muscicapidae
  29. Sturnidae
  30. Sittidae
  31. Certhiidae
  32. Paridae
  33. Aegithalidae
  34. Hirundinidae
  35. Regulidae
  36. Pycnonotidae
  37. Hypocoliidae
  38. Cisticolidae
  39. Zosteropidae
  40. Sylviidae
  41. Alaudidae
  42. Nectariniidae
  43. Melanocharitidae
  44. Paramythiidae
  45. Passeridae
  46. Fringillidae

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Sibley & Ahlquist (1990)
  2. ^ Sibley and Ahlquist (1988)
  3. ^ Clarke et al.' (2005)
  • Clarke, J.A.; Tambussi, C.P.; Noriega, J.I.; Erickson, G.M. & Ketcham, R.A. (2005): Definitive fossil evidence for the extant avian radiation in the Cretaceous. Nature 433: 305–308. doi:10.1038/nature03150 PDF fulltext Supporting information
  • Sibley, Charles Gald & Ahlquist, Jon Edward (1990): Phylogeny and classification of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.
  • On the Phylogeny and Classification of Living Birds, by Charles G. Sibley
  • The Early History of Modern Birds Inferred from DNA Sequences of Nuclear and Mitochondrial Ribosomal Genes, by Marcel van Tuinen, Charles G. Sibley, and S. Blair Hedges
  • Sibley's Classification of Birds, by Eric Salzman, Birding, December 1993. The Web version lacks the illustrations, which show parts of the family tree, and includes only a partial bibliography, but adds a sequence down to the tribe level with detail on intermediate taxa (especially for the passerines). Archived version