The Class of Birds (Aves) in the Arctic Fauna

Yu. I. Chernov

Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii pr. 33, Moscow, 117071 Russia

Received August 2, 1998

Abstract—The avifauna of the Arctic includes 241 species (2.8% of the world fauna): 74 arctic species, includ-
ing those deeply penetrating into the Arctic; 25 mainly polyzonal and generally boreal species; 66 species enter-
ing the southern belt of the Arctic; and 76 species penetrating in some places to the southernmost areas of the
Arctic. Some general features of chorology (the role of boreal-montane elements, a tendency toward circumpo-
larity, and regional and subzonal differentiation) are discussed. The level of bird species richness (concrete fau-
nae) of temperate and arctic belts is closely related to summer (mean July) temperatures. Within the Arctic, this
relation becomes closer and is described by a logistic curve. The most important feature of the arctic avifauna
is the unique proportion between hydrophilic and dendrophilic evolutionary and ecological complexes. The
Charadriiformes and Anseriformes comprise more than half of the avifauna, and the Passeriformes cease to be
dominant. In the context of ecological vicariation, the ratio between Charadriiformes and Passeriformes is con-
sidered. The example of birds confirms the tendency toward an increase in the proportion of carnivorous forms
in the fauna from lower to upper latitudes. Adaptive radiation in the course of colonizing this landscape type is
well expressed in the arctic avifauna, in contrast to the theriofauna. But taxa demonstrating the canalized type
of evolution are also represented. The considerations about the role of different adaptive strategies in the process
of arctic fauna formation are presented.

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