Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Dieter Thomas Tietze
    Pages 1-7 Open Access
  3. Daronja Trense, Dieter Thomas Tietze
    Pages 39-61 Open Access
  4. Martin Päckert
    Pages 75-94 Open Access
  5. Barbara Helm, Robyn Womack
    Pages 95-107 Open Access
  6. Miriam Liedvogel, Kira Delmore
    Pages 109-127 Open Access
  7. Manuel Schweizer, Yang Liu
    Pages 129-145 Open Access
  8. Darius Stiels, Kathrin Schidelko
    Pages 147-164 Open Access
  9. Leo Joseph
    Pages 165-194 Open Access
  10. Sven Trautmann
    Pages 217-234 Open Access
  11. Caroline Isaksson
    Pages 235-257 Open Access
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 259-266

About this book


The average person can name more bird species than they think, but do we really know what a bird “species” is? This open access book takes up several fascinating aspects of bird life to elucidate this basic concept in biology. From genetic and physiological basics to the phenomena of bird song and bird migration, it analyzes various interactions of birds – with their environment and other birds. Lastly, it shows imminent threats to birds in the Anthropocene, the era of global human impact.

Although it seemed to be easy to define bird species, the advent of modern methods has challenged species definition and led to a multidisciplinary approach to classifying birds. One outstanding new toolbox comes with the more and more reasonably priced acquisition of whole-genome sequences that allow causative analyses of how bird species diversify.

Speciation has reached a final stage when daughter species are reproductively isolated, but this stage is not easily detectable from the phenotype we observe. Culturally transmitted traits such as bird song seem to speed up speciation processes, while another behavioral trait, migration, helps birds to find food resources, and also coincides with higher chances of reaching new, inhabitable areas. In general, distribution is a major key to understanding speciation in birds. Examples of ecological speciation can be found in birds, and the constant interaction of birds with their biotic environment also contributes to evolutionary changes. In the Anthropocene, birds are confronted with rapid changes that are highly threatening for some species. Climate change forces birds to move their ranges, but may also disrupt well-established interactions between climate, vegetation, and food sources.

This book brings together various disciplines involved in observing bird species come into existence, modify, and vanish. It is a rich resource for bird enthusiasts who want to understand various processes at the cutting edge of current research in more detail. At the same time it offers students the opportunity to see primarily unconnected, but booming big-data approaches such as genomics and biogeography meet in a topic of broad interest. Lastly, the book enables conservationists to better understand the uncertainties surrounding “species” as entities of protection.


Avian Speciation Bird Diversification Bird Migration Bird Song Evolutionary Ecology of Birds Hybridization

Editors and affiliations

  • Dieter Thomas Tietze
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural History Museum BaselBaselSwitzerland

Bibliographic information