* denotes SDSU student co-author

Manthey, J. D., L. C. Campillo, K. J. Burns, and R. G. Moyle. in press. Comparison of Target-capture and Restriction-site Associated DNA Sequencing for Phylogenomics: a Test in Cardinalid Tanagers (Aves, Genus: Piranga). Systematic Biology

Burns, K. J., P. Unitt, N. A. Mason*. 2016. A genus-level classification of the family Thraupidae (Class Aves: Order Passeriformes). Zootaxa 4088: 329-354. For pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an email request to

Klicka, L. B.*, B. E. Kus, P. O. Title*, and K. J. Burns. 2016. Conservation Genomics reveals multiple evolutionary units within Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii). Conservation Genetics 17: 455-471. pdf

Chesser, R. T., R. C. Banks, K. J. Burns, C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, A. W. Kratter, I. J. Lovette, A. G. Navarro-Sigüenza, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen Jr., J. D. Rising, D. F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2015. Fifty-sixth Supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union: Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk: Ornithological Advances, 132: 748-764. pdf

Title, P. O.* and K. J. Burns. 2015. Rates of climatic niche evolution are correlated with species richness in a large and ecologically diverse radiation of songbirds. Ecology Letters 18:433-440. For pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an email request to

Barker, F. K., K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2015. New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies. The Auk: Ornithological Advances 132: 333-348. pdf

Mason, N.A.* and K. J. Burns. 2015. The effect of habitat and body size on the evolution of vocal displays in Thraupidae (tanagers), the largest family of songbirds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 114: 538–551. For pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an email request to

Mason, N. A.*, Shultz, A. J.*, and K. J. Burns. 2014. Elaborate visual and acoustic signals evolve independently in a large, phenotypically diverse radiation of songbirds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences 281 1788 20140967.  pdf    some links to articles about this study can be found here

Klicka, J., F. K. Barker, K. J. Burns, S. M. Lanyon, I. J. Lovette, J. A. Chaves,
R. W. Bryson. 2014. A comprehensive multilocus assessment of sparrow (Aves: Passerellidae) relationships. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 77: 177-182. For pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an email request to

Fritz, J. A., J. Brancale, M. Tokita, K. J. Burns, M. B. Hawkins, A. Abzhanov, and M. P. Brenner. 2014. Shared developmental program strongly constrains beak shape diversity in songbirds. Nature Communications, 5, 3700. pdf

Burns, K. J., A. J. Shultz*, P. O. Title*, N. A. Mason*, F. K. Barker, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2014. Phylogenetics and diversification of tanagers (Passeriformes: Thraupidae), the largest radiation of Neotropical songbirds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 75: 41-77. For a pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an e-mail request to

Mason, N. A.*, P. O. Title*, C. Cicero, K. J. Burns, and R. C. K. Bowie. 2014. Genetic variation among western populations of the Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) indicates recent colonization of the Channel Islands off southern California, mainland-bound dispersal, and postglacial range shifts. The Auk: Ornithological Advances 131: 162-174. For a pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an e-mail request to

Powell, A. F. L. A., F. K. Barker, S. M. Lanyon, K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, and I. J. Lovette. 2014. A comprehensive species-level molecular phylogeny of the New World blackbirds (Icteridae) 71: 94-112. For a pdf, you can go to the journal’s web site or just send an e-mail request to

Mason, N. A.* and K. J. Burns. 2013. Molecular phylogenetics of the Neotropical Seedeaters and Seed-finches (Sporophila, Oryzoborus, Dolospingus). Ornitología Neotropical 24: 139-155. pdf   This article was picked as an Editor’s Choice.

Ryan, P. G., L. B. Klicka*, F. K. Barker, and K. J. Burns. 2013. The origin of finches on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, central South Atlantic ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69: 299-305. For a pdf, you can go to journal’s web site or just send an e-mail request to

Barker, F. K., K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2013. Going to extremes: Contrasting rates of diversification in a recent radiation of New World passerine birds. Systematic Biology 62: 298-320. link to articlesupplemental material on dryad.

Shultz, A. J.* and K. J. Burns. 2013. Plumage evolution in relation to light environment in a novel clade of Neotropical tanagers. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 112-125. For a pdf, go to journal’s web site or send an e-mail request to

Mallarino, R., O. Campàs, J. A. Fritz, K. J. Burns, O. G. Weeks, M. P. Brenner, and A. Abzhanov. 2012. Closely related bird species demonstrate flexibility between beak morphology and underlying developmental programs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: 16222-16227. pdf  Media coverage in Science Daily.

Burns, K. J. and A. J. Shultz*. 2012. Widespread cryptic dichromatism and ultraviolet reflectance in the largest radiation of Neotropical songbirds: implications of accounting for avian vision in the study of plumage evolution. The Auk 129: 211-221. (editor’s choice) pdf. supplemental material. Media coverage in Birdwatching magazine. This paper was the most downloaded article in The Auk for 2012. Chosen as part of the special collection on color.

Lovette, I. J., J. L. Perez, J. P. Sullivan, R. C. Banks, I. Fiorentino, S. Cordoba-Cordoba, M. Echeverry-Galvis, F. K. Barker, K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and E. Bermingham. 2010. A comprehensive mulitlocus phylogeny for the wood-warblers and a revised classification of the Parulidae (Aves). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 753-770. pdf

Sedano, R. E.* and K. J. Burns. 2010. Are the Northern Andes a species pump for Neotropical birds? Phylogenetics and biogeography of a clade of Neotropical tanagers (Aves: Thraupini). Journal of Biogeography 37: 325-343. pdf

Burns, K. J. and R. A. Racicot*. 2009. Molecular phylogenetics of a clade of lowland tanagers: Implications for avian participation in the Great American Interchange. The Auk 126: 635-648. pdf

Mauck, W. M.* and K. J. Burns. 2009. Phylogeny, biogeography, and recurrent evolution of divergent bill types in the nectar-stealing flowerpiercers (Thraupini: Diglossa and Diglossopis). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 98: 14-28. pdf

Klicka, J., K. J. Burns, and G. M. Spellman. 2007. Defining a monophyletic Cardinalini: A molecular perspective. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 45: 1014-1032. pdf

Burns, K. J., M. P. Alexander*, D. N. Barhoum*, and E. A. Sgariglia*.  2007.  A statistical assessment of congruence among phylogeographic histories of three avian species in the California Floristic Province.  Pages 96-109 in Festschrift for Ned K. Johnson:  Geographic Variation and Evolution in Birds (C. Cicero and J. V. Remsen, Jr., Eds.).  Ornithological Monographs, no. 63. pdf

Shepherd, T. M.* and K. J. Burns.  2007.  Intraspecific genetic analysis of the Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra):  Implications for species limits and conservation.  Journal of Avian Biology 38: 13-27. pdf

Alexander, M. P.* and K. J. Burns.  2006.  Intraspecific phylogeography and adaptive divergence in the White-headed Woodpecker.  The Condor 108:  489-518.  pdf

Burns, K. J. and D. N. Barhoum*.  2006.  Population-level history of the Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata):  Implications for comparative phylogeography in the California Floristic Province.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38: 117-129. pdf

Burns, K. J., and K. Naoki.  2004.  Molecular phylogenetics and biogeography of Neotropical tanagers in the genus Tangara.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 32: 838-854.  pdf

Klein, N. K., K. J. Burns, S. J. Hacket, and C. S. Griffiths. 2004.   Molecular phylogenetic relationships among the wood warblers (Parulidae) and historical biogeography in the Caribbean basin.  Journal of Caribbean Ornithology Vol. 17, Special Issue Honoring Nedra Klein: 3-17. pdf

Burns, K. J., S. J. Hackett, and N. K. Klein.  2003.  Phylogenetic relationships of Neotropical honeycreepers and the evolution of feeding morphology.  Journal of Avian Biology 34: 360-370. pdf

Sgariglia, E. A.* and K. J. Burns.  2003.  Phylogeography of the California Thrasher (Toxostoma redivivum) based on nested-clade analysis of mitochondrial-DNA variation.  The Auk 120: 346-361.  pdf

Burns, K. J. and A. F. Skutch. 2003. Family Thraupidae: Tanagers and Tanager-Finches, pp. 628-631 in The Encyclopedia of Birds, C. Perrins, ed. Andromeda Oxford Ltd, Oxfordshire.

Burns, K. J., S. J. Hackett, and N. K. Klein.  2002.  Phylogenetic relationships and morphological diversity in Darwin’s finches and their relatives.  Evolution 56: 1240-1252.  (Selected by Faculty of 1000) (Editor’s Choice, Science) pdf

Barhoum, D. N.* and K. J. Burns.  2002.  Phylogenetic relationships of the Wrentit based on mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences.  The Condor 104: 740-749. pdf

Ditchfield, A. and Burns, K. J.  1998.  DNA sequences reveal phylogeographic similarities between Neotropical bats and birds.  Journal of Comparative Biology 3: 165-170. pdf

Burns, K. J. 1998. A phylogenetic perspective on the evolution of sexual dichromatism in tanagers (Thraupidae): The role of female versus male plumage. Evolution 52: 1219-1224. pdf

Burns, K. J. 1998. Molecular phylogenetics of the genus Piranga: implications for biogeography and the evolution of morphology and behavior. Auk 115: 621-634. pdf

Burns, K. J. 1997. Molecular systematics of tanagers (Thraupinae): evolution and biogeography of a diverse radiation of Neotropical birds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 8: 334-348. pdf

Burns, K. J. 1993. Geographic Variation in ontogeny of the Fox Sparrow. Condor 95: 652-661. pdf

Burns, K. J. and S. J. Hackett. 1993. Nest and nest-site characteristics of a western population of the Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca). Southwestern Naturalist 238: 277-279. pdf

Burns, K. J. and R. M. Zink. 1990. Temporal and geographic homogeneity of gene frequencies in the Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca). Auk 107: 421-424. pdf

Tanager Accounts for Neotropical Birds Online:

In addition to the above publications, we have also published several accounts on tanagers for Neotropical Birds Online, produced by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.  Neotropical Birds Online is an authoritative, online resource for life histories of Neotropical birds. Most of these accounts on tanagers were written in collaboration with students in Biology 524, Ornithology.

A full list of accounts we have authored can be seen here.