The order Charadriiformes is conservatively divided into three suborders. However, some authors treat Scolopacidae, Turnicidae and the clade comprising Chionidae, Pluvianellidae, and Burhinidae as separate suborders Scolopaci, Turnici, and Chionidi, respectively.


  • Jacanidae (jacanas) 
  • Rostratulidae (painted-snipes)
  • Thinocoridae (seedsnipes)
  • Pedionomidae (Plains-wanderer)
  • Scolopacidae (sandpipers, snipes)


  • Stercorariidae (skuas, jaegers) 
  • Alcidae (auks)
  • Laridae (gulls)
  • Sternidae (terns, noddies, skimmers)
  • Dromadidae (Crab Plover)
  • Glareolidae (coursers, pratincoles)
  • Turnicidae (Buttonquail)


  • Ibidorhynchidae (Ibisbill) 
  • Haematopodidae (oystercatchers)
  • Recurvirostridae (stilts, avocets)
  • Pluvialidae (golden-plovers)
  • Charadridae (plovers, dotterells)
  • Pluvianidae (Egyptian Plover)
  • Chionidae (sheathbills)
  • Pluvianellidae (Magellanic Plover)
  • Burhinidae (thick-knees)

Family-level timetree of extant Charadriiformes, with the distribution of each family being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). The phylogeny is based on Ericson et al. (2003), Paton et al. (2003), Bridge et al. (2005), Paton & Baker (2006), Fain & Houde, (2007), Baker et al. (2007, 2012), Gibson & Baker (2012), Dos Remedios et al. (2015), Prum et al. (2015), and Kuhl et al. (2021). The position of monotypic Dromadidae is based on Pereira & Baker (2010) and Kuhl et al. (2021). Divergence times follow Kuhl et al. (2021). 


Genus-level timetree of extant Scolopaci, with the distribution of each genus being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). The timetree is based on Paton et al. (2003), Baker et al. (2007), Gibson & Baker (2012), and Hu et al. (2017). 


Genus-level timetree of extant Lari, with the distribution of each genus being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). The timetree is based on Paton et al. (2003), Baker et al. (2007), Pereira & Baker (2008), Hu et al. (2017), and DiGiacomo (2018). 


Genus-level timetree of extant Charadrii, with the distribution of each genus being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). The timetree is based on Paton et al. (2003), Baker et al. (2007), Barth et al. (2013), and Hu et al. (2017). However, the backbone of the timing is based on Prum et al. (2015), whose divergence times are significantly younger than those of the other authors. 


Baker AJ, Pereira SL, and Paton TA (2007), Phylogenetic relationships and divergence times of Charadriiformes genera: multiple evidence for the Cretaceous origin of at least 14 clades of shorebirds, Biol. Lett. 3, 205-209. (abstract)


Baker AJ, and Pereira SL (2009), Shorebirds (Charadriiformes), in "The timetree of life", (Hedges, S.B. & Kumar, S., eds.), Oxford University Press, pp432-435. (pdf)


Baker AJ, Yatsenko Y, and Tavares ES (2012), Eight independent nuclear genes support monophyly of the Plovers: the role of mutational variance in gene trees, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 65, 631-641(abstract)

Banks RC (2012), Classification and nomenclature of the Sandpipers (Aves: Arenariinae), Zootaxa 3513, 86-88. 



Barth JMI, Matschiner M, and Robertson BC (2013), Phylogenetic position and subspecies divergence of the endangered New Zealand Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus), PLoS ONE 8, e78068(pdf) 


Bridge ES, Jones AW, and Baker AJ (2005), A phylogenetic framework for the terns (Sternini) inferred from mtDNA sequences: implications for taxonomy and plumage evolution, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 35, 459-469


Chen W, Zhang C, Pan T, Liu W, Li K, Hu C, and Chang Q (2018), The mitochondrial genome of the Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus (Charadriiformes: Charadriidae) and phylogenetic analysis of Charadrii, Genes & Genomics 40, 955-963(abstract)


Chen W, Liu W, Zhang C, Li K, Hu C, and Chang Q (2019), The mitochondrial genome of the red-necked stint Calidris ruficollis (Charadriiformes, Scolopacidae), Conservation Genet. Resour. 11, 181-184(abstract)


Chen P, Huang Z, Zhu C, Han Y, Xu Z, Sun G, Zhang Z, Zhao D, Ge G, and Ruan L (2020), Complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic analysis of Gruiformes and Charadriiformes, Pakistan J. Zool. 52, 425-439. (pdf)


Cohen C (2011), "The phylogenetics, taxonomy and biogeography of African arid Zone terrestrial birds: the bustards (Otididae), sandgrouse (Pteroclidae), coursers (Glareolidae) and Stone Partridge (Ptilopachus)", Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Cape Town(abstract)


Cracraft J, Barker FK, Braun M, Harshman J, Dyke GJ, Feinstein J, Stanley S, Cibois A, Schikler P, Beresford P, Garcia-Moreno J, Sorenson MD, Yuri T, and Mindell DP (2004), Phylogenetic relationships among modern birds (Neornithes): toward an avian tree of life, in "Assembling the Tree of Life", (Cracraft, J. and Donoghue, M.J., eds.), Oxford University Press, pp. 468-489. (pdf)


DiGiacomo AA (2018), "A phylogenetic analysis of extinct and extant Pan-Alcidae", Ph.D. Dissertation at the Montclair State University, New Jersey. (pdf)

Dos Remedios N, Küpper C, Lee PLM, Burke T, and Szekely T (2015), North or South? Phylogenetic and biogeographic origins of a globally distributed avian clade, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 89, 151-159(abstract) 


Ericson PGP, Envall I, Irestedt M, and Norman JA (2003), Inter-familial relationships of the shorebirds (Aves: Charadriiformes) based on nuclear DNA sequence data, BMC Evol. Biol. 3, 16. (pdf)


Fain MG, and Houde P (2007), Multilocus perspectives on the monophyly and phylogeny of the order Charadriiformes, BMC Evol. Biol. 7, 35. (pdf)


Gibson R, and Baker A (2012), Multiple gene sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships in the shorebird suborder Scolopaci (Aves: Charadriiformes), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 64, 66-72. (abstract) 


Hu C, Zhang C, Sun I, Zhang Y, Xie W, Zhang B, and Chang Q (2017), The mitochondrial genome of the pin-tailed snipe Gallinago stenura, and its implications for the phylogeny of Charadriiformes, PloS ONE 12, e0175244. (pdf)


Jackson DG, Emslie SD, and van Tuinen M (2012), Genome skimming identifies polymorphism in tern populations and species, BMC Research Notes 5, 94. (pdf) 


Kuhl H, Frankl-Vilches C, Bakker A, Mayr G, Nikolaus G, Boerno ST, Klages S, Timmermann B, and Gahr M (2021), An unbiased molecular approach using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38, 108-127. (pdf)


Liu W, Hu C, Xie W, Chen P, Zhang Y, Yao R, Li K, and Chang Q (2018), The mitochondrial genome of red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus

(Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae) and phylogeny analysis among Scolopacidae, Genes & Genomics 40, 455-463. (abstract)


Paton TA, Baker AJ, Groth JG, and Barrowclough GF (2003), RAG-1 sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships within Charadriiform birds, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 29, 268-278.. (abstract)


Paton TA, and Baker AJ (2006), Sequences from 14 genes provide a well-supported phylogeny of Charadriiform birds congruent with the nuclear RAG-1 tree, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 39, 657-667(abstract)


Pereira SL, and Baker AJ (2010), The enigmatic monotypic crab plover Dromas ardeola is closely related to pratincoles and coursers (Aves, Charadriiformes, Glareolidae), Genet. Mol. Biol. 33, 583-586(pdf)


Pons JM., Hassanin A, and Crochet PA (2005), Phylogenetic relationships within the Laridae (Charadriiformes: Aves) inferred from mitochondrial markers, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 37, 686-699(abstract)


Prum RO, Berv JS, Dornburg A, Field DJ, Townsend JP, Lemmon EM, and Lemmon AR (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-573. (abstract)


Ribas CC, Aleixo A, Nogueira ACR, Miyaki CY, and Cracraft J (2012), A palaeobiogeographic model for biotic diversification within Amazonia over the past three million years, Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 279, 681-689. (pdf)


Skujina J, Healey AJE, de Becquefort S, Shaw PW, McMahon R, Morgan C, Evans C, Taylor R, Hegarty M, and McKeown NJ (2019), The complete mitochondrial genome of record-breaking migrant Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), Mitochondrial DNA Part B 4, 2738-39(pdf)


Sternkopf V (2011), "Molekulargenetische Untersuchung in der Gruppe der Möwen (Laridae) zur Erforschung der Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen und phylogeographischer Differenzierung", Ph.D. Dissertation, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, 686-699(pdf)


Thomas GH, Wills MA, and Szekely T (2004), Phylogeny of shorbirds, gulls, and alcids (Aves: Charadrii) from the cytochrome-b gene: parsimony, Bayesian inference, minimum evolution, and quartet puzzling, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 30, 516-526.


Zhang F, Zhang N, Huang Z, Ziang Q, and Chen W (2019), The complete mitochondrial genome of common greenshank Tringa nebularia, Mitochondrial DNA Part B 4, 1588-89. (pdf)