More than 150 ornithologists, molecular biologists and computer scientists came together to obtain specimens and analyze more than 17 trillion base pairs of DNA. Sequencing and analysis began in 2011, but the data represent decades of work by field collectors and collections management staff who have collected and preserved birds from every continent. The scenes pictured above represent field work conducted by Smithsonian teams in Africa, Asia, North America and South America.
In the Nov. 11 issue of the journal Nature, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Copenhagen, BGI-Shenzen, the University of California, Santa Cruz and approximately 100 other institutions report on the genomes of 363 species of birds, including 267 that have been sequenced for the first time. The studied species represent more than 92% of the world’s avian families. The data from the study will advance research on the evolution of birds and aids in the conservation of threatened bird species.
Photo by Cristina A. Gebhard / Smithsonian