Under Construction

'Water Birds'

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taxon links [up-->]Pelecaniformes [up-->]Procellariiformes [up-->]Ciconiiformes [up-->]Gaviiformes [up-->]Sphenisciformes [down<--]Neoaves Interpreting the tree
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This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.

The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.

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Phylogenetic hypothesis based on Hackett et al. (2008).
Containing group: Neoaves

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

"Water Birds" is an informal name for a group including many though by no means all of the families that make their livings in the water.

Pelecaniformes and Ciconiiformes as defined here depart considerably from tradition. Pelecaniformes consists of all taxa that are closer to Pelecanus (pelicans) than to Ciconia (typical storks), while Ciconiiformes is all taxa closer to Ciconia than Pelecanus. In practice, this results in Pelecaniformes swallowing up all the traditional ciconiiform families except Ciconiidae, which remains the sole ciconiiform family.


Hackett, S. J., Kimball, R. T., Reddy, S., Bowie, R. C. K., Braun, E. L., Braun, M. J., Chojnowski, J. L., Cox, W. A., Han, K.-L., Harshman, J., Huddleston, C. J., Marks, B. D., Miglia, K. J., Moore, W. A., Sheldon, F. H., Steadman, D. W., Witt, C. C., and Yuri, T. 2008. A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history. Science 320(5884):1763-1768.

Information on the Internet

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Aptenodytes patagonicus
Location Gold Harbor (South Georgia Island (South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands))
Comments king penguin
Creator Gerald and Buff Corsi
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Aptenodytes patagonicus; King Penguin
Source Collection CalPhotos
Copyright © 2001 California Academy of Sciences
Scientific Name Pelecanus occidentalis urinator
Location Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos / Ecuador
Comments Galapagos Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis urinator
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © Selen Ediger
Scientific Name Gavia stellata
Location Nome, Alaska, USA
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Red-throated Loon
Source Collection Flickr
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License - Version 2.0.
Copyright © 2007 Ashok Khosla
About This Page

Page: Tree of Life 'Water Birds'. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Tree of Life Web Project. 2008. 'Water Birds'. Version 27 June 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/%27Water_Birds%27/123207/2008.06.27 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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