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Twice as many bird species than previously thought

Cara J

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While scientists have agreed for many years that there are as many as 10,000 bird species in the world, recent research shows there might be more species than once thought — possibly even double. In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of researchers looked at the morphology of various bird species and where they occur and reviewed existing genetic studies to estimate the number of species. “Ornithologists for generations thought there were a certain number of bird species in the world,” said George Barrowclough, the associate curator of ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the lead author in the study. “Scientists like myself who are interested in biogeography, evolution, and conservation started realizing this concept of species didn’t work for us.” Barrowclough says the biological species concept used in the past is the idea that species resulting from interbreeding and hybridization are the same species. For example, he says the offspring of yellow-shafted flickers (Colaptes auratus) that hybridize with red-shafted flickers (Colaptes cafer) are often considered the same species. However, he says one of the problems with this is that if birds are on islands, it’s more difficult to [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/twice-as-many-bird-species-than-previously-thought/

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