Lecture Outline
 
Ornithology
Biology 5446/5446G
Instructor: C. Ray Chandler

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 Lecture Outline

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This course outline corresponds to the outline you will see during lecture. The course topics and their organizational relationships are shown in black. Readings from the textbook (Ornithology by Gill) are shown in red. A brief summary of each topic is given in blue.


I. INTRODUCTION (pp. 3-20)
A. The class Aves
1. definition - birds are feathered, endothermic, oviparous vertebrates; birds are the only extant organisms with feathers
2. distribution - birds occupy virtually every terrestrial and aquatic habitat on the planet
3. general characteristics - however, birds are relatively uniform in design because of the strict constraints imposed by an aerial lifestyle
a. flight
b. physiology
c. sensory systems
d. ecology
e. behavior
B. Overview of course
1. lecture - lecture will cover all major aspects of bird biology
2. lab - lab will be strongly field-oriented with an emphasis on identification and field techniques
 
II. ORIGIN OF BIRDS (pp. 21-36)
A. Archaeopteryx lithographica
1. discovery - Archaeopteryx was described in the 1860s from the Solnhofen limestone of Bavaria
2. characteristics - it is a remarkable combination of reptilian and avian features
a. reptilian
b. avian
3. significance - as the oldest known bird, Archaeopteryx is often a focal point for discussions on the evolutionary transition from reptiles to birds
4. Is it the earliest bird? - Archaeopteryx remains the oldest confirmed bird despite challengers such as Protoavis
B. Potential ancestors
1. alternative scenarios - there are five basic scenarios for which groups of archosaurs is directly ancestral to birds
2. evidence - evidence best supports theropod dinosaurs as the direct ancestors of birds
C. Evolution of flight
1. flight capabilities of Archaeopteryx - Archaeopteryx was probably arboreal and capable of flapping flight
2. scenarios - although there are two scenarios for the evolution of flight, feathers predate the evolution of birds and flight
a. from the trees down
b. from the ground up
D. Diversification
1. Mesozoic - Archaeopteryx remains the only Jurassic bird, but birds diversified rapidly in the Cretaceous into two major lineages
a. Jurassic
b. Cretaceous
2. Cenozoic - after the KT boundary (and the extinction of toothed birds and dinosaurs), modern orders diversify rapidly while experimenting with a variety of ecological lifestyles
a. patterns of extinction
b. experimentation
c. the appearance of modern birds
 
III. DESIGN OF BIRDS
A. Avian design requirements - an aerial lifestyle imposes strong design constraints
B. Support
1. axial skeleton
2. appendicular skeleton
C. Power
1. musculature
2. metabolism
a. fuel
b. waste
D. Gas exchange
1. respiration
2. circulation
E. Control
1. nervous system
2. sensory system
a. visual
b. auditory
c. others
 
IV. FEATHERS AND FLIGHT
A. Feathers
1. function
2. structure
3. feather types
a. flight
b. contour
c. semiplume
d. down
e. filoplume
f. bristle
g. powder down
4. maintenance and molt
5. coloration
B. Flight
1. wing design
a. lift
b. thrust
2. problems
a. induced drag
b. boundary layer
3. ecology of flight
 
V. SYSTEMATICS AND CLASSIFICATION
A. Background
B. Methods
1. philosophical
2. empirical
C. A Classification of Birds
1. Paleoganthae
a. Tinamiformes
b. Rheiformes
c. Struthioniformes
d. Casuariuformes
e. Dinornithiformes
2. Neognathae
a. Podicipediformes
b. Sphenisciformes
c. Procellariiformes
 


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