Proposal (179) to South American Classification Committee


Divide Charadriiformes into three suborders


Effect on South American CL: This proposal would divide the Charadriiformes into 3 suborders.


Background: With the passage of Prop. 148, our new sequence is consistent with several recent genetic data sets. Here is the relevant part from Prop. 148:


"Three recent data sets (Ericson et al. 2003, Paton et al. 2003, Fain & Houde 2004) using DNA sequence data have produced largely concordant results, which in turn are reasonably consistent with the DNA hybridization data of Sibley & Ahlquist. The first two data sets both use the RAG-1 gene, so are not really independent (but it's comforting to see similar results); Ericson et al. (I have pdf if interested) also used an intron of the myoglobin gene. The third (Fain & Houde 2004; I have pdf if interested) used an intron of the beta-fibrinogen gene.


"The results with decent bootstrap support that are consistent among the three studies and relevant to our sequence are as follows:


"(1) the Charadriiformes consists of three major groups: (1) the Scolopaci [Scolopacidae, Thinocoridae, Pedionomidae, Rostratulidae, and Jacanidae]; (2) the Charadrii [Charadriidae, Recurvirostridae, Haematopodidae, Burhinidae, and Chionidae]; and (3) the Lari [Laridae, Rynchopidae, Stercorariidae, Alcidae, and Glareolidae]. This is also consistent with Sibley & Ahlquist (1990)."


Analysis: The levels of support and degree of congruence among the four data sets indicate that there are three distinct clusters of families within the order. Taxonomic recognition of these three groups would increase the information content of our classification.


Recommendation. I will vote yes on this one. We have been very conservative on use of taxon ranks beyond order-family-genus-species and have restricted this to cases for which more than one data-set support distinct groups within the traditional rank (so far, subfamilies only within a few families, such as Anatidae, Laridae, Cuculidae, Trochilidae, and suborders only with Passeriformes). I suspect we will be adding many more subfamilies and suborders as more genetic data sets are published.


Van Remsen, May 2005




Comments from Robbins: "YES, given the three recent molecular data sets that all support the Charadriiformes into three major groups."


Comments from Stiles: "YES - concordance of three genetic data sets is encouraging."


Comments from Jaramillo: "YES - based on congruence of three datasets."