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Fascinating Life Sciences
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Bird Species

How They Arise, Modify and Vanish

Editors: Tietze, Dieter Thomas (Ed.)

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  • Open Access
  • Broadens our understanding of the bird species concept
  • Explains which factors influence bird diversity
  • Includes a glossary and additional info boxes for speciation specific terms
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  • ISBN 978-3-319-91689-7
  • This book is an open access book, you can download it for free on
Hardcover 51,99 €
price for Spain (gross)
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.

About the authors

Dieter Thomas Tietze studied the integrative taxonomy of passerine birds with Jochen Martens at Mainz University (doctoral scholarship from Villigst) and then broadened his focus at the Zoological Museum in Dresden (phylogeography), the University of Chicago (DFG research fellowship; community ecology and phylogeny of Himalayan passerine birds), and the Universities of Frankfurt am Main (historical biogeography, trait evolution) and Heidelberg (avian urban ecology, genomics). He has served on various conservation NGOs and the advisory board of the German Ornithologists’ Society (DO-G). He is currently Vertebrate Curator at the Natural History Museum in Basel.


“More than 40 tables and attractive illustrations help to enhance what many may find to be a difficult, highly advanced text, loaded with acronyms and graduate-level terminology, … Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, and professionals.” (H. T. Armistead, Choice, Vol. 56 (11), July, 2019)

Table of contents (13 chapters)

Table of contents (13 chapters)
  • Introduction: Studying Birds in Time and Space

    Pages 1-7

    Tietze, Dieter Thomas

  • Integrative Taxonomy of Birds: The Nature and Delimitation of Species

    Pages 9-37

    Sangster, George

  • Studying Speciation: Genomic Essentials and Approaches

    Pages 39-61

    Trense, Daronja (et al.)

  • Morphological Variation in Birds: Plasticity, Adaptation, and Speciation

    Pages 63-74

    Töpfer, Till

  • Song: The Learned Language of Three Major Bird Clades

    Pages 75-94

    Päckert, Martin

Buy this book

  • ISBN 978-3-319-91689-7
  • This book is an open access book, you can download it for free on
Hardcover 51,99 €
price for Spain (gross)

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Bird Species
Book Subtitle
How They Arise, Modify and Vanish
  • Dieter Thomas Tietze
Series Title
Fascinating Life Sciences
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
Hardcover ISBN
Series ISSN
Edition Number
Number of Pages
XII, 266
Number of Illustrations
4 b/w illustrations, 40 illustrations in colour