Free Content Birding and DNA: species for the new millennium: Capsule Based on the 1999 Witherby Memorial Lecture – reviews how developments in molecular and population genetics have led to a reappraisal of species limits in birds.

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Abstract:

The taxonomy of birds of the West Palearctic has moved from the comparative stability of the ‘Voous List’ into a period of serious activity, with new data emerging in almost every issue of every evolutionary and avian journal! This activity comes from two directions. Firstly, developments in population genetics, molecular biology, acoustics, behaviour and distributional studies have opened new avenues to measuring differentiation among groups of birds. This, in turn, has led to the recognition that earlier views of what constitutes a ‘species’ are in need of modification (‘improvement’), and the emergence of the ‘lineage concept’ of species. I review some of the species concepts most relevant to avian studies, and attempt to show how and why this change has happened, and its consequences for taxonomy and species limits. Examples are given in the form of ‘case studies’, and include Carrion/Hooded Crows Corvus corone/cornix, Green‐winged/Eurasian Teals Anas carolinensis/crecca and Phylloscopus warblers.

Keywords: DNA; RNA; Species concept; divergence; evolution; evolutionary species; genes; hybrid; molecular studies; phylogenetic; polymorphism; species; splitting and lumping

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Institute of Genetics, Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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