The order Charadriiformes is conservatively divided here into three suborders. Note, however, that sometimes Scolopacidae, Turnicidae and the clade comprising Chionidae + Pluvianellidae + Burhinidae are treated as 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, Dotterels)
  • Pluvianidae (Egyptian Plover)
  • Chionidae (Sheathbills)
  • Pluvianellidae (Magellanic Plover)
  • Burhinidae (Thick-knees)

Timetree of 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). 


Timetree of 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). 


Timetree of 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). 


Timetree of 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, A.J., S.L. Pereira, and T.A. Paton (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. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0606. (abstract)

Baker, A.J., and S.L. Pereira (2009), Shorebirds (Charadriiformes), in "The timetree of life", (Hedges, S.B. & Kumar, S., eds.), Oxford University Press, pp.

432-435. (pdf)

Baker, A.J., Y. Yatsenko, and E.S. Tavares (2012), Eight independent nuclear genes support monophyly of the Plovers: the role of mutational variance in gene

trees, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 65, 631-641. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.07.018. (abstract)


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

10.11646/Zootaxa.3513.1.6. (abstract)


Barth, J.M.I., M. Matschiner, and B.C. Robertson (2013), Phylogenetic position and subspecies divergence of the endangered New Zealand Dotterel

(Charadrius obscurus), PLoS ONE 8, e78068. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0078068. (pdf) 

Bridge, E.S., A.W. Jones, and A.J. Baker (2005), A phylogenetic framework for the terns (Sternini) inferred from mtDNA sequences: implications for

taxonomy and plumage evolution, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 35, 459-469. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2004.12.010. 

Chen, W., C. Zhang, T. Pan, W. Liu, K. Li, C. Hu, and Q. Chang (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., W. Liu, C. Zhang, K. Li, C. Hu, and Q. Chang (2019), The mitochondrial genome of the red-necked stint Calidris ruficollis (Charadriiformes,

Scolopacidae), Conservation Genet. Resour. 11(2), 181-184(abstract)


Chen, P., Z. Huang, C. Zhu, Y. Han, Z. Xu, G. Sun, Z. Zhang, D. Zhao, G. Ge and L. Ruan (2020), Complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic analysis

 of Gruiformes and Charadriiformes, Pakistan J. Zool. 52(2), 425-439. DOI: 10.17582/journal.pjz/20190603010623. (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., F.K. Barker, M. Braun, J. Harshman, G.J. Dyke, J. Feinstein, S. Stanley, A. Cibois, P. Schikler, P. Beresford, J. Garcia-Moreno, M.D. Sorenson,

T. Yuri, and D.P. Mindell (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. 

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

Jersey. (pdf)

Dos Remedios, N., C. Küpper, P.L.M.Lee, T. Burke, and T. Szekely (2015), North or South? Phylogenetic and biogeographic origins of a globally distributed

avian clade, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 89, 151-159. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.04.101. 

Ericson, P.G.P., I. Envall, M. Irestedt, and J.A. Norman (2003), Inter-familial relationships of the shorebirds (Aves: Charadriiformes) based on nuclear DNA

sequence data, BMC Evol. Biol. 3, 16. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-3-16. (pdf)

Fain, M.G., and P. Houde (2007), Multilocus perspectives on the monophyly and phylogeny of the order Charadriiformes, BMC Evol. Biol. 7, 35. DOI:

10.1186/1471-2148-7-35. (pdf)

Gibson, R. and A. Baker (2012), Multiple gene sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships in the shorebird suborder Scolopaci (Aves: Charadriiformes),

Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 64, 66-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.03.008. (abstract) 

Hu, C. C. Zhang, l. Sun, Y. Zhang, W. Xie, B. Zhang, and Q. Chang (2017), The mitochondrial genome of the pin-tailed snipe Gallinago stenura, and its

implications for the phylogeny of Charadriiformes, PloS ONE 12(4), e0175244. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175244. (pdf)

Jackson, D.G, S.D. Emslie, and M. van Tuinen (2012), Genome skimming identifies polymorphism in tern populations and species, BMC Research Notes 5,

94. DOI: 10.1186/1756-0500-5-94. (pdf) 

Kuhl, H., C. Frankl-Vilches, A. Bakker, G. Mayr, G. Nikolaus, S.T. Boerno, S. Klages, B. Timmermann, and M. Gahr (2021), An unbiased molecular approach

using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38 (1), 108-127. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa191. (pdf)

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

(Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae) and phylogeny analysis among Scolopacidae, Genes & Genomics 40(5), 455-463. (abstract)

Ödeen, A, O. Hastad, and P. Alström (2010), Evolution of ultraviolet vision in shorebirds (Charadriiformes), Biol. Letters 6, 370-374. DOI:

10.1098/rsbl.2009.0877. (pdf)

Paton, T.A., A.J. Baker, J.G. Groth, and G.F. Barrowclough (2003), RAG-1 sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships within Charadriiform birds, Mol.

Phylogenet. Evol. 29, 268-278. DOI: 10.1016/S1055-7903(03)00098-8
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Paton, T.A., and A.J. Baker (2006), Sequences from 14 mitochondrial genes provide a well-supported phylogeny of Charadriiform birds congruent with the

nuclear RAG-1 tree, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 39, 657-667. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.01. (abstract)

Pereira, S.L., and A.J. Baker (2010), The enigmatic monotypic crab plover Dromas ardeola is closely related to pratincoles and coursers (Aves,

Charadriiformes, Glareolidae), Genet. Mol. Biol. 33, 583-586. DOI: 10.1590/S1415-47572010000300033. (pdf)


Pons, J.-M., A. Hassanin, and P.-A. Crochet (2005), Phylogenetic relationships within the Laridae (Charadriiformes: Aves) inferred from mitochondrial

markers, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 37, 686-699. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2005.05.011. (abstract)

Prum, R.O., J.S. Berv3, A. Dornburg, D.J. Field, J.P. Townsend, E.M. Lemmon, and A.R. Lemmon (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using

targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-573. (abstract)

Skujina, J., A.J.E. Healey, S. de Becquefort, P.W. Shaw, R. McMahon, c. Morgan, C. Evans, R. Taylor, M. Hegarty, and N.J. McKeown (2019), The complete

mitochondrial genome of record-breaking migrant Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), Mitochondrial DNA Part B 4(2), 2738-2739. DOI: 10.1080/23802359.2019.1644225. (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, G.H., M.A. Wills, and T. Szekely (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. DOI: 10.1016/S1055-7903(03)00222-7. 


Zhang, F., N. Zhang, Z. Huang, Q. Ziang, and W. Chen (2019), The complete mitochondrial genome of common greenshank Tringa nebularia, Mitochondrial

DNA Part B, 4(1), 1588-1589. DOI: 10.1080/23802359.2019.1601509. (pdf)