Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy of birds

The Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy is a bird taxonomy proposed by Charles Sibley and Jon E. Ahlquist. It is based on DNA–DNA hybridization studies conducted in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.[1]

DNA–DNA hybridization is among a class of comparative techniques in molecular biology that produce distance data (versus character data) and that can be analyzed to produce phylogenetic reconstructions only using phenetic tree-building algorithms. In DNA–DNA hybridization, the percent similarity of DNA between two species is estimated by the reduction in hydrogen bonding between nucleotides of imperfectly complemented heteroduplex DNA (i.e., double stranded DNAs that are experimentally produced from single strands of two different species), compared with perfectly matched homoduplex DNA (both strands of DNA from the same species).

This revolutionary reordering was initially widely accepted by North American ornithologists, and the American Ornithologists' Union adopted some of its provisions. In other parts of the world its adoption has been more deliberative: it has been a major influence on existing classification schemes but hardly any authority adopted it in its entirety.


The classification appears to be an early example of cladistic classification because it codifies many intermediate levels of taxa: the "trunk" of the family tree is the class Aves, which branches into subclasses, which branch into infraclasses, and then "parvclasses", superorders, orders, suborders, infraorders, "parvorders", superfamilies, families, subfamilies, tribes, subtribes and finally genera and species. However the classification study did not employ modern cladistic methods, as it relies strictly on DNA-DNA hybridization as the sole measure of similarity.

The Sibley–Ahlquist arrangement differs greatly from the more traditional approach used in the Clements taxonomy.


Other birds






Basal divergences of modern birds
in the Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy

The major changes at order level are as follows:

Some of these changes are minor adjustments. For instance, instead of putting the swifts, treeswifts, and hummingbirds in the same order that includes nothing else, Sibley and Ahlquist put them in the same superorder that includes nothing else, consisting of one order for the hummingbirds and another for the swifts and treeswifts. In other words, they still regard the swifts as the hummingbirds' closest relatives.

Other changes are much more drastic. The penguins were traditionally regarded as distant from all other living birds. For instance, Wetmore put them in a superorder by themselves, with all other non-ratite birds in a different superorder. Sibley and Ahlquist, though, put penguins in the same superfamily as divers (loons), tubenoses, and frigatebirds. According to their view, penguins are closer to those birds than herons are to storks.

The new research suggested that the ducks and gallinaceous birds are each other's closest relatives and together form the basal lineage of neognathous (non-ratite) birds, distinct from the others which are collectively called Neoaves. The ratites and tinamous are followed by the ducks and their allies and the pheasants and their allies. Penguins, grebes and divers are placed with other groups that were traditionally considered more modern.

The Galloanseres (waterfowl and landfowl) has found widespread acceptance. The DNA evidence of Sibley–Ahlquist for the monophyly of the group is supported by the discovery of the fossil bird Vegavis iaai, an essentially modern but most peculiar waterfowl that lived near Cape Horn some 66-68 million years ago, still in the age of the dinosaurs.[2]



Ratitae Struthioniformes
  1. Struthionidae
  2. Rheidae
  3. Casuariidae
  4. Apterygidae
  1. Tinamidae



Galloanserae Gallomorphae Craciformes
  1. Cracidae
  2. Megapodiidae
  1. Phasianidae
  2. Numididae
  3. Odontophoridae
Anserimorphae Anseriformes
  1. Anhimidae
  2. Anseranatidae
  3. Dendrocygnidae
  4. Anatidae


Turnicae Turniciformes
  1. Turnicidae


Picae Piciformes
  1. Indicatoridae
  2. Picidae
  3. Megalaimidae
  4. Lybiidae
  5. Ramphastidae


Coraciae Galbulimorphae Galbuliformes
  1. Galbulidae
  2. Bucconidae
Bucerotimorphae Bucerotiformes
  1. Bucerotidae
  2. Bucorvidae
  1. Upupidae
  2. Phoeniculidae
  3. Rhinopomastidae
Coraciimorphae Trogoniformes
  1. Trogonidae
  1. Coraciidae
  2. Brachypteraciidae
  3. Leptosomidae
  4. Momotidae
  5. Todidae
  6. Alcedinidae
  7. Halcyonidae
  8. Cerylidae
  9. Meropidae


Coliae Coliiformes
  1. Coliidae


Passerae Cuculimorphae Cuculiformes
  1. Cuculidae
  2. Centropodidae
  3. Coccyzidae
  4. Opisthocomidae
  5. Crotophagidae
  6. Neomorphidae
Psittacimorphae Psittaciformes
  1. Psittacidae
Apodimorphae Apodiformes
  1. Apodidae
  2. Hemiprocnidae
  1. Trochilidae
Strigimorphae Musophagiformes
  1. Musophagidae
  1. Tytonidae
  2. Strigidae
  3. Aegothelidae
  4. Podargidae
  5. Batrachostomidae
  6. Steatornithidae
  7. Nyctibiidae
  8. Eurostopodidae
  9. Caprimulgidae
Passerimorphae Columbiformes
  1. Raphidae
  2. Columbidae
  1. Eurypygidae
  2. Otididae
  3. Gruidae
  4. Aramidae
  5. Heliornithidae
  6. Psophiidae
  7. Cariamidae
  8. Rhynochetidae
  9. Rallidae
  10. Mesitornithidae
  1. Pteroclidae
  2. Thinocoridae
  3. Pedionomidae
  4. Scolopacidae
  5. Rostratulidae
  6. Jacanidae
  7. Chionidae
  8. Pluvianellidae
  9. Burhinidae
  10. Charadriidae
  11. Glareolidae
  12. Laridae
  13. Accipitridae
  14. Sagittariidae
  15. Falconidae
  16. Podicipedidae
  17. Phaethontidae
  18. Sulidae
  19. Anhingidae
  20. Phalacrocoracidae
  21. Ardeidae
  22. Scopidae
  23. Phoenicopteridae
  24. Threskiornithidae
  25. Pelecanidae
  26. Ciconiidae
  27. Fregatidae
  28. Spheniscidae
  29. Gaviidae
  30. Procellariidae
  1. Acanthisittidae
  2. Pittidae
  3. Eurylaimidae
  4. Philepittidae
  5. Tyrannidae
  6. Thamnophilidae
  7. Furnariidae
  8. Formicariidae
  9. Conopophagidae
  10. Rhinocryptidae
  11. Climacteridae
  12. Menuridae
  13. Ptilonorhynchidae
  14. Maluridae
  15. Meliphagidae
  16. Pardalotidae
  17. Petroicidae
  18. Irenidae
  19. Orthonychidae
  20. Pomatostomidae
  21. Laniidae
  22. Vireonidae
  23. Corvidae
  24. Callaeatidae
  25. Picathartidae
  26. Bombycillidae
  27. Cinclidae
  28. Muscicapidae
  29. Sturnidae
  30. Sittidae
  31. Certhiidae
  32. Paridae
  33. Aegithalidae
  34. Hirundinidae
  35. Regulidae
  36. Pycnonotidae
  37. Hypocoliidae
  38. Cisticolidae
  39. Zosteropidae
  40. Sylviidae
  41. Alaudidae
  42. Nectariniidae
  43. Melanocharitidae
  44. Paramythiidae
  45. Passeridae
  46. Fringillidae

See also


  1. ^ Sibley & Ahlquist (1990)
  2. ^ Clarke et al.' (2005)
Alden H. Miller

Alden Holmes Miller (February 4, 1906 – October 9, 1965) was an American ornithologist and director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley for 25 years. He published over 250 papers on the biology, distribution, and taxonomy of birds, and served as president of the American Ornithologists' Union (1953-1955) and the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (1964-1965), and as editor of The Condor from 1939 until his death. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alden Miller was born February 4, 1906 in Los Angeles, California, the son of Loye H. Miller, a noted professor and researcher. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, earning a B.A. in 1927, then enrolled in UC Berkeley, receiving an M.S. in 1928 and his PhD in 1930 under Joseph Grinnell. Ten years later he succeeded Grinnell as the director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. He is noted for his studies of Lanius (the largest genus of shrikes) and juncos (sparrow-like birds). He received the Brewster Medal for his contributions to ornithology. Miller's approach to collections-based research employed "concepts, theories, practices, tools, and technologies from the laboratory, museum, and field."Miller supervised around 30 doctoral students and 15 master's students, many of whom became notable ornithologists in their own right. His doctoral students included Charles G. Sibley, who co-developed the Sibley–Ahlquist taxonomy of birds; author and conservationist A. Starker Leopold; and Richard C. Banks, founder of the Ornithological Council.Miller died of a heart attack at Clear Lake, California, on October 9, 1965, at the age of 59.


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Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish. They are found in all regions of the Earth except polar ice caps and some remote islands.

Owls are divided into two families: the true (or typical) owl family, Strigidae, and the barn-owl family, Tytonidae.


Sibley may refer to:

Sibley (surname)

Sibley (automobile)


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Birds (class: Aves)
Fossil birds
Human interaction

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