The global diversity of birds in space and time

In a new paper that will appear in Nature tomorrow, Walter Jetz and Colleagues “present, analyse and map the first complete dated phylogeny of all 9,993 extant species of birds, a widely studied group showing many unique adaptations.” The emphasis here is on the word “dated” – the study provides estimated diversification rates across the…

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Accelerated speciation in colour-polymorphic birds

There’s an interesting new study in tomorrow’s issue of nature. Andrew F. Hugall and Devi Stuart-Fox use molecular phylogenies to look at speciation rates of birds. I cite from the abstract: … we confirm, using species-level molecular phylogenies for five families of non-passerine birds, that colour polymorphism is associated with accelerated speciation rates in the…

Polar Bears Are an Old and Distinct Bear Lineage

Polar bears, by Alan D. Wilson (naturespicsonline.com: [1]) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Here’s something for the lovers of cute fluffy white mammals: a new study in science lead by Frank Hailer uses nuclear markers to infer the time at which polar bears split up from their ancestral brown bear lineage. Previous analysis, based on…