A new study has found that there may be about 18,000 bird species living in the world- nearly twice as many as previously thought. Main focus of the study was ‘hidden avian diversity’ birds that look similar to one another, or were thought to interbreed, but are actually different species. It can be of significance when it comes to conservation.
In a way, researchers have proposed a major change in the way of how we count diversity. However, birds are thought of as a well-studied group, with more than 95 per cent of their global species diversity estimated to have been described.
Most of the checklists that are used by bird watchers as well as by scientists say that there are roughly between 9,000 and 10,000 species of birds.
Old methods of counting bird species can said to be one of the probable causes of lesser recognition of their species. Scientists now realise that bird biodiversity is severely underestimated, and is likely closer to 18,000 species worldwide.
For their species recognition, birds were not selected randomly - and, in fact, many were likely chosen for study because they were already thought to have interesting genetic variation. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.