A Yale-led team recently released this exhaustively researched data visualization showing the nearly 10,000 species of living birds on Earth. The data shows changes in the rate of diversification among birds, with diversity increasing among more recent species.
“It’s the first time that we have — for such a large group of species and with such a high degree of confidence — the full global picture of diversification in time and space,” said biologist Walter Jetz of Yale, lead author of the research paper.
Data from the fossil record as well as DNA was included with geographical information to document 9,993 species currently known species.
The research team discovered diversification rates to be higher in the Western Hemisphere, as well as higher in island habitats. Geographic areas of recent, intense diversification include northern parts of North American, Eurasia, and southern extremes of South America.
Source: Jetz W, Thomas G, Joy J, Hartmann K, & Mooers A (2012) ‘The Global Diversity of Birds in Space and Time’ Nature, 491 (7424), 444-448 DOI: 10.1038/nature11631