Does Anyone Really Know How Many Kinds of Birds There Are? – #365papers – 2017 – 151

#365papers for May 31, 2017

Barrowclough, Cracraft, Klicka, and Zink, 2016, How many kinds of birds are there and why does it matter?: PlosONE, v. 11, e0166307.

What’s it about?

When discussing species diversity, especially in terms of conservation efforts, it’s important to have a good definition of ‘species.’ Here, the authors show that depending on how you define a species, there may be twice as many kinds of birds as we usually think.

Why does it matter?

Oftentimes, species are distinguished on a morphological basis – how different they look. This is called morphospecies or phenetic species. When there are living animals to examine, behavior and reproductive success are also considered, resulting in what we understand as biological species. We can now go further and examine the genetic diversity with DNA sequencing and find that there are typically about two so-called molecular species for each biological species.

The question is, then, how can we best and most practically define species?

Why did I read this?

I am interested in the various concepts of species used in science because it affects how we interpret and understand evolutionary relationships among organisms.

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About Penny

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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