New AOS Checklist Supplement

The AOS checklist supplement for 2017 has recently been published. The paper can be downloaded here and the comments of committee members can be found here. This paper is is the result of work by the AOS Classification Committee, of which Burns is a member. The paper reviews recent papers on birds of North and Middle America, making determinations on proposed changes to the official AOS list of birds as well as changes to classification. A good review of this year’s changes can be found on the ABA blog. Among the “new” species are a newly recognized junco and a newly recognized crossbill. Another major change is the lumping of Thayer’s Gull with Iceland Gull. From the Burns lab perspective, the most notable change is a classification for 9-primaried oscines, the large group that contains tanagers and consists of roughly 10% of all birds. A recent series of publications (of which the Burns lab participated) has improved our understanding of evolutionary relationships in the group and has made the new classification possible. The new classification results in 10 newly recognized families, bringing the total number of families in the group to 16. An example of one of the ‘new’ families is highlighted in the image below.

Black-crowned Palm-Tanager (left) and White-winged Warbler (right). These two species were once considered members of different families, tanagers (Thraupidae) and warblers (Parulidae). However, their plumage patterns are somewhat similar, and DNA results (some of which were done in the Burns lab) confirm their close relationship. Thus, they are now considered members of the same, newly recognized family, Phaenicophilidae. Photos taken by Kevin Burns while doing field work in the Dominican Republic with Nedra Klein.

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