Different taxonomic sequences

Subject: Different taxonomic sequences
From: (John Penhallurick)
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 22:42:48 +1000
Michael Hines asked for this information yesterday, and today suggested I 
post it to birding-aus for the benefit of other birders.  Apologies to those 
to whom it is old hat.

John Penhallurick

>A quick reply on the sequences.  The traditional sequence goes back largely 
to a Germ Ornithologist named Gadow in the late nineteenth century.  He used 
morphology to group birds.  This is the family sequence that you get in 
Peters Checklist and also in most field guides.  It's the one most 
birdwatchers are used to.
>In recent years, ornithologists have come largely to rely on 
micro-molecular techniques, such as studying the gen sequences of birds, or 
DNA-DNA hybridisation.  This led to Sibley and Monroe's sequence in which 
the order of families is somewhat different from the traditional sequence.  
Morphology is pliable under environmental pressures.  So the fact that the 
Australian Pomatostomid babblers have curved bills like the Scimitar 
Babblers of Asia does not mean the two are related, but is due to convergence.
>Gill published a family sequence in the first edition of his book 
Ornbithology.  This was a compromise, in that he accepted some, but not all, 
of the changes proposed by Sibley-Monroe.  This sequence enjoys some 
popularity in the US because Clements used Gill's first edition sequence in 
his checklist.  Gill published a second edition, in which the family 
sequence in the Appendix has moved still further in the direction of 
>I hope this helps.
>John Penhallurick
Associate Professor John M. Penhallurick<>
Canberra, Australia
Phone BH( 61 6) 201 2346   AH (61 6 2585428)
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