1999 Volume 48 Issue 1 Pages 5-45
Advances in molecular techniques, particularly the development of DNA sequence determination, have led to an explosive increase in studies of avian phylogeny. To date, many of these studies have examined mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) because it has many useful features for the study of the phylogeny of closely related taxa. Unfortunately, however, the use of mtDNA also has some problems since mitochondria are inherited maternally. Samples of blood, tissue, feather and even dried skin can be used as a source of DNA. DNA sequences are analysed in the order: extraction, amplification, sequence determination. Inferences about phylogenetic relationships from sequence data are made using an assortment of methods that include parsimony, maximum likelihood, and distance. The confidence levels of the resulting phylogenetic trees can be determined using statistical methods such as bootstrap. For the time being, it is not possible to delimit species solely on mtDNA information. There are many unsolved problems, and many fruitful areas for study in the phylogeny of Japanese birds. DNA analysis is a requisite method to solve these problems. Phylogenetic analysis using DNA sequencing will play a leading role in solving questions relating to avian evolution.