Re: [CALBIRDS] Re: Who's On First?
- I'm wondering if we're straying for Cal Bird topics too much, but Jim
Gain asks whether it is likely the AOU will make further changes in the
sequence of the checklist. The answer is "yes" -- there are likely to
be more changes -- but I also do not anticipate them for several years
because the research is so new (see below). I recommend changing to the
now-official AOU standard sequence -- as shown on the AOU and CBRC web
sites, previously referred to in this thread.
The Sibley-Ahquist-Monroe DNA-DNA hybridization studies were the last
comprehensive look at sequencing the birds of the world that had a major
impact (e.g., Sibley & Ahlquist 1990, Sibley & Monroe 1990). DNA-DNA
hybridization studies inferred relationships by measuring the
temperature at which artificially-created hybrid DNA double helixes of
different birds "melted." This indirect method of looking at genetic
evidence was somewhat replaced in the 1990s by more direct studies of
mitochondrial DNA, and even more recently be looking at the direct
genetic sequences in nuclear DNA.
Recently, studies of nuclear DNA genetic codes have produced trees of
relationships of all of Sibley-Ahlquist-Monroe's families (except one)
and these studies will have a major impact on the AOU and others who
produced checklists. A fair bit of recent work appears in the
arrangement in the newest Howard & Moore Checklist (2003 -- Clements is
oh so passe), and the topic of passerine evolution (and thus sequencing)
is now published in Barker, Garrowclough & Groth (2002) "A phylogenetic
hypthesis for passerine birds: taxonomic and biogeopgraphic implications
of an analysis of nuclear DNA sequence data" Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 269:
295-305; Erickson, Irestedt & Johansson (2003) "Evolution, biogeography,
and patterns of diversidfication in passerine birds" Jour. Avian Biol.
34:3-15; and Barker, Cibois, Schikler, Feinstein & Cracraft (2004)
"Phylogeny and diversification of the largest avian radiation" Proc.
Nat. Acad. Sci. (Philadelphia) 101: 11040-11045 [I was able to downloand
pdfs of each of these this week by doing "google" searches on the topic
and/or authors' names].
The short answer is that Sibley-Ahlquist-Monroe were half right and half
wrong. Some stuff proved to be right on -- like the vireos are in the
corvoid assemblage, which is why AOU moved them from next to warblers to
their current spot some time ago. But Sibley-Ahlquist-Monroe also got a
lot of stuff wrong. Most of these examples do not affect California
birders, but the AOU swallowed several Sibley-Monroe claims that prove
to be false (for just one example; AOU moved the South American
Black-capped Donacobius from Mimids to Wrens on Sibley-Monroe grounds,
but Donacobius is not related to either. It is a remnant taxa of Old
World affinities -- maybe closest to babblers? -- rather than related to
any New World familiy.
As to the future, I'll go out on a limb and predict that the AOU will
move New World Vultures back to their original place next to hawks
(vultures do not appear to be storks as Sibley-Monroe thought); I expect
the taxonomic position of Dipper to change (next to thrushes instead of
next to wrens), the exact placement of waxwings and pipits may change
(but perhaps not by a lot), and the sequences in
tanagers/sparrows/cardinals will likely shift somewhat.
These type of changes may await the 8th AOU Checklist, and that is some
years down the line. The likely changes around the rest of the world are
a lot more dramatic than they will be here.
But no one should ever hope for complete stability in any checklist. We
live in a time of particularly rapid change right now due to the
emergence of new and better techniques that are capturing the attention
of professional museum-based ornithologists. We are actually lucky that
there is such interest and such a caldron of research and debate right
now -- for decades ('60s, '70s, '80s) interest in taxonomic issues
lagged seriously in ornithology. We are getting closer to some version
of 'truth' about the details of avian evolution much more quickly now
than ever before.
I rejoice in all this new knowledge. I'm thrilled to rearrange the MTY
checklist with better information. Incidentally, the on-line MTY
checklist starting at
http://montereybay.com/creagrus/MTYbirdlistportal.html is in the
current AOU order, and Cackling Goose will soon appear there (plus new
photos scattered about).
And for perhaps something more directly related to CalBirds, see the
latest news from Monterey County on rare birds at
Pacific Grove CA