Palearctic Birds: a checklist of the birds of Europe, North Africa and Asia north of the foothills of the Himalayas. By Mark Beaman.  Harrier Publications, Stonyhurst, 1994. 168 pages. ISBN 0-9523391-0-2. Paperback £12.50. The core of this book, comprising one-third of the whole, consists of a list of scientific and English names of species-level taxa of birds which occur or have occurred in the Palearctic region. Other parts are devoted to notes on taxonomy, distribution, omitted species, and lengthy discussions on English names. Both higher and species-level taxa are presented in a 'standard order', which is adopted from Voous. The reader is cautioned, however, that such a standard order should not be taken to imply taxonomic relationships. Notwithstanding this warning, it may be noted that the 'much-liked' Voous order is directly derived from that of Wetmore, whose sequence of families in turn can be traced back to the work of Furbringer and Gadow. Doubtlessly, the family sequence worked out, some 100 years ago, by these great German anatomists represented the best estimate of phylogenetic relationships that they could achieve, given systematic theory and methods of analysis prevalent at the time, and it has served as the base-line for many decades of systematic work. An alternative for the 'standard order' would be that of Sibley & Monroe (1990), based on the work by Sibley & Ahlquist (1990). Although often termed 'revolutionary' or 'highly controversial' in the popular literature, both Sibley & Ahlquist's work and the 'standard order' result from the same traditional theoretical and methodological premises (phenetic clustering based on general resemblance in either molecular or morphological data sets, ignoring problems of homology and

Issue 6
Start Page: 
Hazevoet, C. J
Display Image: 

Stay at the forefront of British birding by taking out a subscription to British Birds.

Subscribe Now