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Biology | Evolution | Ornithology


Strauch's (1978) compatibility analysis of relationships among the shorebirds (Charadriiformes) was the first study to examine the full range of charadriiform taxa in a reproducible way. Subsequently Mickevich and Parenti (1980) leveled serious charges against Strauch's characters, method of phylogenetic inference, and results. To account for these charges, Strauch's characters were re-examined and recoded, and parsimony analyses were performed on the revised matrix. A parsimony analysis on 74 taxa from the revised matrix yielded 855 shortest trees, each length = 286 and consistency index = 0.385. In each shortest tree there were two major lineages, a lineage of sandpiper-like birds and a lineage of plover-like birds; the two formed a monophyletic group, with the auks (Alcidae) being that group’s sister taxon. The shortest trees were then compared with other estimates of shorebird relationships, comparison suggesting that the charges against Strauch's results may have resulted from the Mickevich and Parenti decisions to exclude much of Strauch's character evidence.