June 09, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Passerides, Sylviida, Hirundinidae: Based on thousands of UCEs, Schield et al (2024) provided an updated timetree of the swallows and allies (Hirundinidae). Only the genus Phedina prove to be non-monophyletic. A taxonomic solution, however, still has to be proposed. (journal abstract) (author pdf)

April 10, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Passerides, Passerida, Emberizoidea, Cardinalidae, Habia:  Scott et al. (2024) proposed a new genus, Driophlox, for four species currently assigned to the genus Habia Blyth, 1840. (abstract)

April 02, 2024

Higher phylogeny: Based on 63,430 intergenic DNA sequences of 363 bird species representing 218 families, Stiller et al. (2024) provided an updated order-level avian timetree, recognising four main clades of Neoaves: Mirandornithes, Columbaves, Telluraves, and the new Elementaves (preview pdf)I adjusted my order-level timetree accordingly. Surprisingly, as a byproduct of the same study, Mirarab et al. (2024) reported that a ~21-Mb region on chicken chromosome 4 shows a phylogenetic signal strongly supporting an alternative phylogeny, placing Columbimorphae as sister to Mirandornithes (pdf)

March 16, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Passerides, Passerida, Estrildoidea, Prunellidae, Prunella: Based on the study of thousands of genome-wide intronic and exonic loci, Jiang et al (2024) provided an updated phylogeny of the accentors. (free pdf)

March 16, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Passerides, Sylviida, Sylvioidea, Zosteropidae: Based on three mitochondrial genes (ND2, Cyt b, COI), Vinciguerra et al. (2023) provided a timetree of white-eyes, sampling all genera except Rukia and almost 90% of species. (abstract)

March 14, 2024

Accipitriformes, Accipitridae, Harpiinae: To insure nomenclatural stability, Gregory et al. (2024) suggested Harpiinae Verheyen, 1959 (1850) as a replacement name for Thrasaetinae Blyth, 1850. (pdf). I adjusted my accipitrid classification accordingly.

February 16, 2024

Higher phylogeny: Based on the comparative analysis of genomes of 118 species across all 35 Neognathae orders, with six palaeognath and one crocodilian species serving as outgroups, Wu et al. (2024) published an order-level avian phylogeny. (pdf) I adjusted my "Higher phylogeny" timetree and classification accordingly. 

February 13, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passerides, Passerida, Emberizoidea, Emberiza: Zhang et al. (2023) provided convincing evidence that Emberiza godlewskii is monophyletic and that Emberiza cia is its closest relative. These results are based on autosomal and Z chromosomal nuclear sequence data. Mitogenomes and non-recombining W chromosomes, however, were subjected to ILS and/or introgression leading to wrong phylogenetic inferences. (abstract)

February 10, 2024

Gruimorphae, Gruiformes, Rallidae, Porphyrio: Based on mitochondrial sequence data from the large flightless takahē, Porphyrio hochstetteri, and from subfossils of the extinct moho, Porphyrio mantelli, Verry et al. (2023) provided evidence that they are sister species that separated from a common ancestor ~1,5 mya. The flighted ancestor probably colonised New Zealand ~4 mya. In addition, the study corroborates existing ideas on intrinsic Porphyrio relationships. (free pdf)

February 09, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passerides, Muscicapida, Certhioidea, Troglodytidae: Based on a multilocus supermatrix from published and newly generated sequence data, Imfeld et al. (2024) provided a comprehensive species-level phylogeny of the wrens. Several currently recognised species turned out not to be monophyletic, a phenomenon that is particularly obvious in the genus Henicorhina. In addition, the authors proposed a new unranked clade name, Orthourae, for the taxon comprising the wrens (Troglodytidae) and gnatcatchers/gnatwrens (Polioptilidae). Due to the lack of morphological characters, the authors selected three unreversed amino acid changes of the RAG1 protein as autapomorphies defining the new taxon. (abstract)

February 08, 2024

Columbimorphae, Columbiformes, Columbidae, Raphinae, Ptilinopini, Ptilinopus: Based on thousands of UCEs, Nash et al. (2024) provided informtion on the phylogenetic relationships among 25 (out of ~55) species of Ptilinopus fruit doves. In particular, they clarified the position of the Negros Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus arcanus, a species known only from a single specimen collected on Negros Island, Philippines in 1953. In addition, the authors corroborated earlier findings that Drepanoptila holosericea and Alectroenas pulcherrimus should be included in the genus Ptilinopus to render it monophyletic. (abstract) [comment: applying chronotaxonomics to their timetree suggests the genus should be split]

January 30, 2024

Palaeognathae, Struthioniformes, Tinamidae: Based on a comparison of BUSCOs and UCEs of varying flanking lengths, in their preprint paper Musher et al. (2024) confirmed existing ideas on the intrinsic phylogeny of tinamous. In particular, they corroborated the non-monophyly of two genera, suggesting to move Nothoprocta cinerascens to Rhynchotus, and Taoniscus nanus to Nothura. Moreover, the authors provided evidence that Nothoprocta pentlandii may not be monophyletic. (pdf)  [comment: the proposed taxonomic changes  are not based on chronotaxonomics]

January 28, 2024

Gruimorphae, Gruiformes, Rallidae: Three family-group names that have been introduced by Livezey (1998) proved to be unavailable. Sangster et al. (2024) provided a formal description to render these taxa available for classification. In addition, the authors clarified the uncertainties concerning Zapornia vs. Amaurornis akool (pdf). I adjusted my rallid classification accordingly.

January 09, 2024

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Passerides, Passerida, Fringillidae: Utilising nextRAD and mitochondrial ND2 data, Vázquez-López et al. (2024) provided a timetree-based ancestral range reconstruction of the true finch subfamily Euphoniinae. The authors also provided a taxonomic revision of the subfamily suggesting to split the genera Chlorophonia and Euphonia. [comment: chronotaxonomics suggest the newly proposed genera should be assigned subgenus rank] (free pdf)

December 23, 2023

Australaves, Psittaciformes, Cacatuidae, Calyptorhynchinae: Reviewing the taxonomy of the black cockatoos, Saunders et al. (2023) found the subfamily to be represented by two genera: six species in Calyptorhynchus (characterised by red subterminal tail bands) and five species in Zanda (characterised by white or yellow subterminal tail bands). (free pdf) I adjusted both my psittaciform timetree and classification accordingly. 

November 27, 2023

Coraciimorphae, Trogoniformes, Trogonidae: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new family-group name, Apalodermatinae, for the African trogons, and clarified the authorship of Harpactini. (pdf) I adjusted my trogonid classification accordingly. 

November 17, 2023

Columbimorphae, Columbiformes, Columbidae: In their biogeographical analysis of pigeons and doves (free pdf), Oliver et al. (2023) provided a supermatrix timetree [supplementary material figure S2, (docx)]. I adjusted my columbid timetree accordingly. 

November 17, 2023

Australaves, Psittaciformes: Gregory & Sangster (2023) provided convincing evidence that Androglossini Sundevall, 1872 and Microglossini Hogg, 1846 should not have replaced Amazonini Mathews & Iredale, 1920 and Proboscigerini Mathews, 1916, respectively. (pdf)

November 17, 2023

Galloanserae, Galliformes, Phasianidae: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new family-group name, Ithaginini, for the Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus) and resurrected Lerwini for the Snow Partridge (Lerwa lerwa). (pdf)  [commentJimmy Gaudin pointed out to me that Ithaginini is already available from des Murs, 1886]

November 14, 2023

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passerides, Muscicapida, Muscicapoidea, Muscicapidae: Tilsley & Gaudin (2023) proposed a new genus name, Karoocichla, for the Karoo Scrub Robin, because the earlier proposed name Salsolicola Oatley, 2004 was preoccupied by Salsolicola Kuznetsov, 1960 (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). (link)

November 14, 2023

Australaves, Passeriformes, Tyranni, Tyrannida, Pipridae: van Els et al. (2023) proposed a new genus, Protopelma, for the Serra do Mar Tyrant-manakin, Neopelma chrysolophum. (link)

November 10, 2023

Galloanserae, Galliformes: Integrating new UCE data of 14 additional galliform species, Chen et al. (2021) provided an updated timetree of landfowl. The authors placed special emphasis on divergence-time estimation, suggesting a crown-clade age of 71,5 million years (free pdf). I adjusted my galliform timetree accordingly.

November 08, 2023

Australaves, Psittaciformes: Using UCEs from 96% of the clade’s species-level diversity, Smith et al. (2023) provided an updated timetree (suppl. figure S27) and higher-level taxonomy (fig. 4) of the parrots (free pdf). I adjusted my parrot timetree accordingly. 

November 05, 2023

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Passerides, Sylviida, Sylvioidea, Zosteropidae: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new genus, Stictocerthia, for Dasycrotapha plateni and D. pygmaea. (pdf) [Thanks for pointing out Jim]

November 05, 2023

Australaves, Passeriformes, Tyranni, Furnariida, Furnariidae: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new genus of ovenbirds, Neophilydor, for Philydor erythrocercum and P. fuscipenne. (pdf)

October 13, 2023

Strisores, Caprimulgiformes, Caprimulgidae: Based on the results of two phylogenetic studies published years ago, Costa et al. (2023) proposed a taxonomic revision of an unnamed clade of South American nightjars. The authors resurrected several previously used generic names and introduced two new ones. (pdf) I adjusted my caprimulgid taxonomy accordingly. [Thanks for pointing out Jim]

October 02, 2023

Australaves, Psittaciformes, Psittacidae, Arinae: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed two family-group names, Forpini and Touitini, because previously introduced names for these tribes proved to be unavailable. (pdf) [Thanks for pointing out Jim]

August 28, 2023

Aequornithes, Pelecanifomes, Ardeidae, Agamia agami: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new family-group name, Agamiinae, for the Agami Heron. (pdf)

August 17, 2023

Australaves, Passeriformes, Passeri, Meliphagida, Meliphagidae, Pycnopygius: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new genus of honeyeaters, Pinarostola gen. nov., for Pycnopygius cinereus and P. ixoides. (free pdf)

August 05, 2023

Accipitriformes, Accipitridae: [bioRxiv preprint] Based on a combination of two datasets (a backbone of UCEs of 120 species, supplemented by publicly available Sanger gene sequences that are referred to as legacy markers by the authors), Catanach et al. (2023) provided an updated timetree as well as a genus-level taxonomic revision of the accipitrids. In total, the study considers 236 ingroup species, representing ~90% of recognised species (link). I adjusted my accipitriform timetree according to the new results. 

July 07, 2023

Musophagotides, Otidiformes, Otididae, Neotis nuba: Collar & Kirwan (2023) proposed a new genus, Nubotis gen. nov., for the Nubian Bustard (abstract). [thanks again for pointing out, Jim!]

June 30, 2023

Suliformes, Phalacrocoracidae, MicrocarboBased on DNA sequence data of five mitochondrial and five nuclear genes, Kennedy et al. (2023) proposed a timetree of the microcormorants, genus Microcarbo. The authors found a deep split (~12 Mya) between the African and the remaining species. As a consequence, they proposed to place the African species in a separate genus, Afrocarbo gen. nov. (free pdf). I rearranged my suliform timetree accordingly. [thanks for pointing out, Jim]

June 06, 2023

Passeriformes, Passerides, Passerida, Prunellidae, Prunella:  Based on all protein-coding mitochondrial genes, Zang et al. (2023) provided an updated timetree of the accentors. The authors recognised 12 species without commenting on species boundaries. A clade of large-sized species (subgenus Laiscopus) proved to be sister to a clade of small-sized species (subgenus Prunella(view pdf)

May 24, 2023

Charadriiformes, Charadrii, Burhinidae, Burhinus: Černý et al. (2023) proposed the new genus name Hesperoburhinus for the two Neotropical thickknee species "Burhinus" bistriatus and "Burhinus" superciliaris, because in a previous publication (Černý & Natale, 2022) the traditional genus Burhinus proved to be paraphyletic with respect to the genus Esacus (pdf). I updated my Charadrii timetree accordingly. [Thanks for pointing out Jim!]

May 18, 2023

Passeriformes, Passeri, Corvides, Corvoidea, Sylviida, Laniidae, Platylophidae, Corvidae, Eurocephalus: Based on 2,500 UCEs, McCullough et al. (2023) investigated the genus-level relationships within shrikes (Laniidae), crows (Corvidae) and their allies. The authors corroborate earlier findings that Platylophidae, represented by the genus Platylophus, is the sistergroup to Laniidae. In addition, they found a sistergroup relationship between Corvidae and the white-crowned shrikes, genus Eurocephalus, two African species for which they proposed a new family, Eurocephalidae (link). With some hesitation, a included the new family in my passeriform timetree.  

May 16, 2023

Passeriformes, Passerides, Sylviida, Alaudidae: Based on two different datasets, one represented by the mitochondrial CYB gene and 16 nuclear loci, and the other represented by genome-wide SNPs, Alström et al. (2023) investigated the species-level phylogeny of the larks. All currently recognised species except Mirafra pulpa were considered (92 out of 93). As a result, the authors propose a new subfamily classification (Alaudinae, Certhilaudinae, and Mirafrinae) and a division of the traditional genus Mirafra into four genera. Interestingly, due to the lack of morphological characters distinguishing the three subfamilies, molecular apomorphies were included in the respective diagnoses. (link)

May 09, 2023

Piciformes, Capitonidae, Ramphastidae, and Semnornithidae: Based on a combination of  ~2,500 UCEs and all 13 protein-coding mitochondrial genes, Ostrow et al. (2023) investigated the species-level phylogeny of toucans, toucan-barbets, and New World barbets. The authors largely corroborated existing phylogenetic assumptions, but found Selenidera toucanets to be paraphyletic with respect to Andigena mountain-toucans (abstract)In my piciform timetree, I indicated the proven non-monophyly of the genus Selenidera by using quotation marks (awaiting future taxonomic adjustments). 

May 02, 2023

Strisores, Trochilidae, Trochilinae, Trochilini: Sangster et al. (2023) proposed a new genus, Dicranurania, for the Mexican Woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi), which in another study proved to be sister to the genus Eupherusa. The authors based their decision to create a new monotypic genus on the presence of a forked tail and distinct colouration. However, the degree of genetic differentiation or clade age were not taken into account. (pdf)

April 12, 2023

Gruimorphae, Gruiformes, Rallidae: Based on mitochondrial and nuclear data, Depino et al. (2023) provided new information on the phylogeny of the rallid tribe Laterallini, including for the first time sequences of Coturnicops notatus, Laterallus levraudi, L. jamaicensis tuerosi, and L. xenopterus. The genera Laterallus and Coturnicops turned out to be non-monophyletic. However, a taxonomic revision of the tribe is still pending. (link) In my rallid cladogram I indicated the non-monophyly of the respective genera by using quotation marks. 

April 03, 2023

Aequornithes, Ciconiiformes, Ciconiidae: Based on two mitochondrial gene sequences (CYB and COI barcode), Corrêa de Sousa et al. (2023) provided an updated phylogeny of the storks (free pdf). I rearranged my ciconiid cladogram accordingly. 

January 27, 2023

Aequornithes, Pelecaniformes, Ardeidae: Based on a comparison of UCEs of more than 90% of extant species, Hruska et al. (2023) provided an updated phylogeny of the herons (abstract). The authors corroborated most existing phylogenetic assumptions, but the genera Ardea, Botaurus, Gorsachius, and Ixobrychus proved to be non-monophyletic. Moreover, the New Guinean Zonerodius heliosylus, which was not considered in earlier molecular studies, turned out to be either closely related to or part of the genus Ardeola. The authors proposed an updated taxonomy of the family Ardeidae. They did not, however, provide a timetree. I adjusted my ardeid phylogeny and taxonomy according to their results. 

December 27, 2022

Coraciimorphae, Piciformes, Picidae: Sangster et al. (2022) proposed to restrict the woodpecker subfamily Picumninae to Picumnus, and to place Sasia and Verreauxia in the newly proposed subfamily Sasiinae (free pdf). As I anticipated these changes, no rearrangements are necessary in my picid timetree. 

November 04, 2022

General information: van den Burg & Vieites (2022), in a partly parallel study to Sangster & Luksenburg (2021), checked all available GenBank CytB records of Aves for consistency. In their study, the authors flagged 1336 erroneous records (wrong taxonomies, voucher errors, contaminations, hybridisation/introgression/ILS, numts, sequencing errors, suspicious sequences, and unclear reasons). Five tables are provided as supporting information (S1: GenBank records identified as erroneous, S2: Nomenclature changes made to original GenBank assignments, S3: summary statistics of the curated database, S4: species in need of expert re-assessment or consisting of more than one species, S5: GenBank records with uncertain taxonomy tags). (free pdf)

October 20, 2022

Passeriformes, Passerides, Muscicapida, Muscicapidae: Zhao et al. (2023) provided an updated timetree of the speciose family Muscicapidae, comprising the Old World flycatchers, robins, and chats. The study covered all genera and 92% species. Four well-defined subfamilies (Muscicapinae, Niltavinae, Cossyphinae, and Saxicolinae) are corroborated. Taxonomic changes are proposed for six genera (Muscicapa, Vauriella, Cercotrichas, Sheppardia, Cossypha, and Myrmecocichla). (link)

October 06, 2022

Anseriformes, Anatidae, Oxyurinae: Based on a phylogenetic analysis of mitogenomic data, Wuitchik et al. (2022) provided a partial cladogram of Oxyurinae (excluding Nomonyx dominicus, which is sister to Oxyura). According to their results, Stictonetta naevosa is sister to Heteronetta atricapilla, and these species in turn are sister to the genus OxyuraNettapus auritus is considered sister to the remaining oxyurines (link). I rearranged my anatid timetree accordingly. 

June 06, 2022

Strisores, Caprimulgidae (nightjars): Based on plumage, vocalisations, and mitochondrial cytochrome b  sequences, Sangster et al. (2022) proposed to recognise five species of eared nightjars, genus Lyncornis. However, I prefer to accept only four species (L. cerviniceps, L. macropterus, L. macrotis, and L. temminckii), to the exclusion of L. jacobsoni. The latter is distinguished only by plumage characters, but neither by vocalisation nor CytB sequences. In my view, this population, which is endemic to the Simeulue Island off western Sumatra, does not even deserve subspecies status. (link)

June 04, 2022

Passeriformes, Corvides, Orioloidea: Sangster et al. (2022) proposed two new family-group names, Erpornithidae and Pteruthiidae, for the Asian Erpornis zantholeuca and Pteruthius. These taxa represent successive sister groups of the New World vireos (Vireonidae). The new families were proposed by the authors in the name of nomenclatural stability, even though they were aware that the new family-level taxa are relatively young. Reluctantly, I adopted the proposed changes in my passeriform timetree. (link)

April 15, 2022

Higher phylogeny: I adopted the supraordinal clade-names proposed by Sangster et al. (2022). However, I do not follow their concept of Columbimorphae, since this is discordant with the results of Kuhl et al. (2021). (link)

January 20, 2022

(Chrono-) Taxonomy: I added this page in order to provide an overview of systematics’ subdisciplines, and to present a new species concept, including delimitation approach. 

November 14, 2021

General information: Ornithologists interested in the postzygotic mechanisms underlying speciation will be fascinated by the obervations of Jagannathan & Yamashita (2021) in Drosophila flies (link). The researchers from Cambridge (MA) discovered that the widely observed pronounced divergence of satellite DNA even between closely related species causes reproductive isolation. An overview of the intracellular processes involved is provided by Eva Frederick (link)

October 23, 2021

Passeriformes, Tyranni, Furnariida, Myrmotheridae, Grallariinae: In two large-scale companion papers, Isler et al. (2020) and Chesser et al. (2020) investigated the Rufous-Antpitta complex, which is part of the Neotropical genus Grallaria. The first study focused on vocalisations, the second on DNA sequences (one mitochondrial gene and three introns of nuclear genes). Traditionally considered to comprise only two species (G. rufula and G. blakei), the authors propose that 16 cryptic species are involved, including G. rufocinerea, a species that has not previously been considered part of the species complex [The impressive co-studies pinpoint the key challenges that taxonomists are facing when trying to delimit species. As long as variations in plumage, vocalisation, and DNA profile coincide, species delimitation is unequivocal. This seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Species limits remain uncertain and debatable, however, when data sources yield contradictory results. In the studies, this was encountered on three occasions in two forms: In two cases (rufula 1+ rufula 3; rufula 2 + rufula 5) mitochondrial DNA as well as molecular species delimitation indicated the existence of two separate lineages while vocalisation indicated the existence of only one. In the other case (obscura 2 + obscura 3) molecular species delimitation indicated the existence of only one lineage while vocalisations indicated the existence of two. How to resolve this dilemma? There is no conclusive answer to this question, because there are no rules how to proceed. The authors decided to give preference to vocalisation, proposing two "rufula" and two “obscura” species. [Error spotting: in Fig. 5, two undisputed species, "blakei 2" and "blakei 3", should have been represented as two separate bGMYC groups, not one. My family-level passeriform timetree is not affected.]

October 20, 2021

Palaeognathae, Struthioniformes, Tinamidae: Almeida et al. (2021) provided an updated timetree of tinamous, based (for most species) on sequences of three mitochondrial and five nuclear loci. The authors considered all currently recognised genera, and 32 out of 45 species. They found two genera, Nothura and Nothoprocta, to be non-monophyletic. However, a revised classification was not yet proposed. The age of crown-Tinamidae was estimated between 31 and 40 million years. [My palaeognath timetree is updated accordingly.]

September 29, 2021

General information: Sangster & Luksenburg (2021) (pdf) reanalysed 1,559 published avian mitogenome sequences, partial or complete, in order to evaluate their authenticity. Using markers based on three protein-coding genes of conspecifics, they found that 5% of these mitogenomes were problematic (see also Päckert, 2021). Most importantly, the authors propose a set of measures that might serve as a new standard for publishing mitogenome sequences. [The scientific community should be grateful to the authors for highlighting an apparently widespread problem and for providing guidelines for improval.]

September 25, 2021

Charadriiformes: Černý & Natale (2021) provided a timetree of shorebirds that was based on total evidence. Taking into account only pre-existing data, their study should rather be considered a compilation. The authors point to a number of taxa of uncertain placement (e.g. Pluvialis, Turnix/Ortyxelos, Double-banded Courser, and major lineages of Laridae) and critically reevaluate divergence times. [For the time being I will not change the existing timetrees.]

September 25, 2021

Passeriformes, Tyranni (suboscines):  Last year, Harvey et al. (2020) provided a comprehensive study of suboscine phylogeny, covering 1,287 species. Oddly, a high-resolution timetree is accessible only from the first authors homepage (hi-res tree). The best way, however, to access the data is via John Boyd´s “TiF” homepage (http://jboyd.net/Taxo/tree_suboscines.html).  [My family-level passeriform timetree is not affected.]

September 24, 2021

Passeriformes, Tyranni, Furnariida:  Gaudin et al. (2021) found that according to the rule of priority the name of the antpitta clade should be Myrmotheridae instead of Grallariidae.