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John Harshman
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taxon links [up-->]Mycteria [up-->]Anastomus [up-->]Ciconia [up-->]Jabiru mycteria [up-->]Leptoptilos [up-->]Ephippiorhynchus [down<--]'Water Birds' Interpreting the tree
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This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.

The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.

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You can click on the root to travel down the Tree of Life all the way to the root of all Life, and you can click on the names of descendent subgroups to travel up the Tree of Life all the way to individual species.

For more information on ToL tree formatting, please see Interpreting the Tree or Classification. To learn more about phylogenetic trees, please visit our Phylogenetic Biology pages.

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Relationships after Slikas 1997.

Containing group: 'Water Birds'

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Ciconiiformes has traditionally included several families in addition to Ciconiidae: Threskornithidae (ibises), Ardeidae (herons), Balaeniceps (shoebill), and Scopus (hamerkop), all of which are actually closer to Pelecanidae than to Ciconiidae, and therefore have been placed in Pelecaniformes. Another family, Phoenicopteridae (flamingos) is also sometimes included in Ciconiiformes, but is not within "Water Birds". Thus the only family actually in the order Ciconiiformes is Ciconiidae itself (Hackett et al. 2008).

Other Names for Ciconiidae


Hackett, S. J., Kimball, R. T., Reddy, S., Bowie, R. C. K., Braun, E. L., Braun, M. J., Chojnowski, J. L., Cox, W. A., Han, K.-L., Harshman, J., Huddleston, C. J., Marks, B. D., Miglia, K. J., Moore, W. A., Sheldon, F. H., Steadman, D. W., Witt, C. C., and Yuri, T. 2008. A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history. Science 320(5884):1763-1768.

Sheldon, F. H. and B. Slikas. 1997. Advances in Ciconiiform Systematics. Colonial Waterbirds 20(1):106-114.

Slikas, B. 1997. Phylogeny of the avian family Ciconiidae (storks) based on cytochrome b sequences and DNA-DNA hybridization distances. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 8: 275-300.

Slikas, B. 1998. Recognizing and testing homology of courtship displays in storks (Aves : Ciconiiformes : Ciconiidae). Evolution 52(3):884-893.

Soothill, E. and R. Soothill. 1989. Wading Birds of the World. 2nd ed. London: Blandford.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Location Southern Serengeti
Comments Marabou Stork
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © Greg and Marybeth Dimijian
Scientific Name Mycteria leucocephala
Location Patri, Gujarat, India
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source 061128 painted stork_Q0S2021.jpg
Source Collection Flickr
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License - Version 2.0.
Copyright © 2006 Lip Kee Yap
Scientific Name Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis
Location South Africa
Comments The Saddle-billed stork - Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis - 145 cm is unlikely to be confused with any other stork. The sexes are dimorphic, the male has a yellow wattle below the chin with brown, read dark, eyes and the female lacks the wattle and has bright eyes read yellowish. Uncommon residents. Usually in pairs or single. Usually silent, but has bill-snapping display. There are about 60 pairs in Kruger National Park, an area larger than some European countries!
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Sex Male
Source Have Saddle will travel
Source Collection Flickr
Copyright © 2006 Callie de Wet
About This Page

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to John Harshman at

Page: Tree of Life Ciconiiformes. Ciconiidae. Storks. Authored by John Harshman. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Harshman, John. 2008. Ciconiiformes. Ciconiidae. Storks. Version 27 June 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Ciconiidae/26332/2008.06.27 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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This page is a Tree of Life Branch Page.

Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

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