Aves (Birds)


The class Aves is the part of the animal kingdom containing all known species of birds, past and present. Their basic biology, evolutionary history and general ecology are key to understanding their success in the environment today.

Keywords: birds; flight; evolution; reproduction; behaviour

Figure 1.

(a) One of the proposed phylogenies of the fossil and modern birds. The exact relationship between the extinct fossil species is hotly debated. (b) The phylogeny of the modern birds suggested by DNA‐hybridization studies. (c) One of the more recent models proposed based on new molecular evidence.

Figure 2.

The adaptive radiation of the Hawaiian finches. The bill of each species has become adapted to its own particular ecological niche through the process of natural selection.

Figure 3.

The major zoogeographical regions of the world and their characteristic bird abundance.


Further Reading

Alcock J (1993) Animal Behaviour, 5th edn. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

Brooke M and Birkhead TR (1991) The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Ornithology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Fedducia A (1996) The Origin and Evolution of Birds. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Gill FB (1995) Ornithology, 2nd edn. New York: Freeman.

Perrins CM (1990) The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Birds. London: Headline Book Publishing.

Perrins CM and Birkhead TR (1983) Avian Ecology. Glasgow: Blackie.

Proctor NS, Peterson RJ and Lynch PJ (1993) Manual of Ornithology: Avian Structure and Function. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Sibley CG and Ahlquist JE (1990) Phylogeny and Classification of Birds. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Whittow GC (ed.) (1999) Sturkie's Avian Physiology, 5th edn. London: Academic Press.

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How to Cite close
Cunnningham, Emma JA(Jan 2002) Aves (Birds). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001548]