Systematics and evolution of extinct and extant Pan-Alcidae (Aves, Charadriiformes) : combined phylogenetic analyses, divergence estimation, and paleoclimatic interactions
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Although the ecological interactions and ethology of the wing-propelled diving seabirds known as the Alcidae (Aves, Charadriiformes) have been intensively studied, systematic studies of the clade have been overwhelmingly limited to extant taxa. Pan-Alcidae have the richest fossil record among Charadriiformes, with specimens representing more than 35 million years of evolutionary history. Morphometric and apomorphy-based taxonomic revision of previously named extinct pan-alcids along with description of new species of extinct pan-alcids facilitated refined estimates of species richness. Combined phylogenetic analyses of morphological and molecular sequence data including pan-alcid fossils elucidated the poorly understood evolutionary history of the clade. Divergence estimation analysis for Charadriiformes placed previously hypothesized episodes of pan-alcid radiation and extinction in context with proposed paleoclimatic drivers of alcid evolution.