The Evolution of Passerine Birds Explained

Prof. Jon Fjeldså will discuss how new data and new analytic approaches are revealing new insights into the evolution of passerine birds

Organiser: Linnean Events


Pericrocotus igneus (top) and P. flammeus (middle and bottom)
Pericrocotus igneus (top) and P. flammeus (middle and bottom)

The Linnean Society of London is delighted to bring you this event in collaboration with the British Ornithologists' Club

Classifying birds from morphology has never been easy, and resolving the evolutionary relationships among passerine birds has proven especially challenging. Since the emergence of molecular systematics, many traditionally defined songbird groups, such as ‘flycatchers’ and ‘warblers’, have instead shown to be multiple independent lineages of birds with similar lifestyles. Scores of members of these former ‘umbrella’ groups are now viewed as ancient relictual lineages, and the number of accepted passerine families has increased dramatically, by 40 percent. Although generating a ‘taxonomic mess’— a growing pain resulting from the shift from similarity-based taxonomy to taxonomy representing evolutionary relationships— these new relationships also lead to biogeographic insights spanning the globe. The talk will reveal new perceptions and interpretations about the generation of avian diversity and variation over time, and demonstrate that the complex world-wide pattern of bird species diversity was driven by relatively few life-history shifts and geographic expansions. However, the talk will also highlight remaining problem areas in resolving the tree of life, where further progress requires more and better data. The age of exploration must continue!

Prof Jon Fjeldså
Prof Jon Fjeldså

Jon Fjeldså holds a MSc from Bergen University (Norway) and a Dr.Sci. from Copenhagen University, where he is now professor in biodiversity and in change of the bird collections of the Zoological Museum. His teaching obligations comprises supervision on the MSc and PhD levels in evolutionary biology, biogeography and conservation. He is responsible for a Danida-funded capacity building project in Uganda and Tanzania, and has played a key role in establishing research programmes in the fields of molecular approaches to biosystematics, tropical biodiversity, macroecology and conservation priority analysis.

This event will take place online using Zoom video-conferencing.

  • This event is free and open to all.
  • Registration is essential, and will close 24 hours before the event is set to begin
  • Once you have registered, just sit back and wait. You will be sent the joining links and details 24 hours before the event begins

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