08 December 2009


With the advent of DNA technology, we can begin to actually see gene pools. Recombinant DNA is revolutionizing bird taxonomy. Basically, strands of DNA are split and hybridized (recombined with DNA from a different species). The more similar two strands of DNA are, the more stable the hybrid DNA will be. The results are sometimes surprising. Loons and Penguins are more closely related that previously thought. Flamingos are closely related to grebes rather than herons. Sandpipers are close to doves. New World Vultures are close to storks. Warbling Vireos in the Rocky Mountains are probably not the same species as those in the East.

DNA systematics are not without critics. Evolution is assumed to proceed at the same rate in all groups of birds. Similar sequences of DNA bases are assumed to be the result of common descent rather than accident. Never-the-less, as more and more DNA evidence is accumulated, the systematics of North American birds will be in a state of upheaval for the next few years.

Warbling Vireo

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... This is out-dated, just so you know.

    "Loons and Penguins are more closely related that previously thought." This is correct. (Coronaves, Pelecanae).

    "Flamingos are closely related to geese rather than herons." Sort of... but not really:
    -Geese are in Galloanserae
    -Flamingos are in Metaves

    "Sandpipers are close to doves."
    -Sandpipers are in Coronaves (more related to loons!)
    -Doves are in Metaves (more related to grebes!)

    "New World Vultures are close to storks." Sort of true...
    -They're both in Coronaves.
    -Storks are in Pelecanae.
    -NW Vultures are in Passerae.

    If you want a better understand of this, check out Taxonomy in Flux checklist!


    (Sorry if you don't allow advertising on here.)