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Introducing the OpenWings Project

We are incredibly pleased to announce the beginning of the OpenWings Project – a research project supported by the National Science Foundation through the Systematics and Biodiversity Science Cluster of the Division of Environmental Biology. At its heart, the OpenWings project is all about understanding the evolutionary history of and evolutionary relationships among birds. Birds, or “Class Aves”, comprise the only extant lineage of theropod dinosaurs, are the single most diverse clade of amniotes, and include at least one lineage that underwent a remarkably rapid radiation (Neoaves; see Jarvis et al. 2014). Birds occur in almost every terrestrial environment, from the snow line to lowland rain forests and from perpetually wet cloud forests to virtually rainless deserts. Birds are amazing. Birds are also a major source of public engagement – bird-watching in 2011 (alone) generated $107 billion in US economic output. On the scientific side of things, the study of birds (also known as ornithology) has led to advancements in numerous scientific fields. Birds are also emerging as a model for comparative biology – draft genomes of over fifty avian species are now available, and this resource is yielding insights into a diversity of topics including genomic innovations, trait loss, adaptation, convergence […]

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