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File:European Herring Gull.png
European Herring Gull
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequorlitornithes
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Lari
Family: Laridae
Rafinesque, 1815
Laridae phylogeny


















Part of the cladogram of the genera in the order Charadriiformes based on the analysis by Baker and colleagues published in 2007.[1]
File:Brown Noddy.png

Brown Noddy, a tern with no seasonal variation.

File:Ivory Gull.png

Ivory Gulls, a two-cycle gull.

Common Gull

Common Gulls, a three-cycle gull.[2]

Glaucous-winged Gull

Glaucous-winged Gulls, a four-cycle gull.[2]

Laridae is a family of seabirds in the order Charadriiformes that includes the gulls, terns and skimmers. It includes around 100 species arranged into 22 genera. They are an adaptable group of mostly aerial birds found worldwide.


The family Laridae was introduced (as Laridia) by the French polymath Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1815.[3][4] Historically, Laridae were restricted to the gulls, while the terns were placed in a separate family, Sternidae, and the skimmers in a third family, Rynchopidae.[5] The noddies were traditionally included in Sternidae. In 1990 Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist included auks and skuas in a broader family Laridae.[6]

A molecular phylogenetic study by Baker and colleagues published in 2007 found that the noddies in the genus Anous formed a sister group to a clade containing the gulls, skimmers and the other terns.[1] To create a monophyletic family group, Laridae was expanded to include the genera that had previously been in Sternidae and Rynchopidae.[7][8]

Baker and colleagues found that the Laridae lineage diverged from a lineage that gave rise to both the skuas (Stercorariidae) and auks (Alcidae) before the end of the Cretaceous in the age of dinosaurs. They also found that the Laridae themselves began expanding in the early Paleocene, around 60 million years ago.[1] The German palaeontologist Gerald Mayr has questioned the validity of these early dates and suggested that inappropriate fossils were used in calibrating the molecular data. The earliest charadriiform fossils date only from the late Eocene, around 35 million years ago.[9]

Anders Ödeen and colleagues investigated the development of ultraviolet vision in shorebirds, by looking for the SWS1 opsin gene in various species; as gulls were the only shorebirds known to have developed the trait. They discovered that the gene was present in the gull, skimmer and noddy lineages but not the tern lineage. They also recovered the noddies as an early lineage, though the evidence was not strong.[10]

The genera are listed in taxonomic order.[7]

Subfamily Gyginae: White Terns[]

Genus Gygis[]

(1 or 2 species) (White Tern)[lower-alpha 1]

Subfamily Rynchopinae: Skimmers[]

Genus Rynchops[]

(3 species)

Subfamily Anoinae: Noddies[]

Genus Anous[]

(5 species)

Subfamily Sterninae: Terns[]

Genus Gelochelidon[]

(2 species)

Genus Hydroprogne[]

Genus Thalasseus[]

(8 species)

Genus Sternula[]

(7 species)

Genus Onychoprion[]

(4 species)

Genus Sterna[]

(13 species)

Genus Chlidonias[]

(4 species)

Genus Phaetusa[]

Genus Larosterna[]

Subfamily Larinae: Gulls[]

Genus Creagrus[]

Genus Rissa[]

Kittiwakes (2 species)

Genus Pagophila[]

Genus Xema[]

Genus Chroicocephalus[]

(13 species, including 1 extinct)

Genus Saundersilarus[]

Genus Hydrocoloeus[]

Genus Rhodostethia[]

Genus Leucophaeus[]

(5 species)

Genus Ichthyaetus[]

(6 species)

Genus Larus[]

(25 species)

Distribution and habitat[]

The Laridae have spread around the world, and their adaptability has likely been a factor. Most have become much more aerial than their ancestor, which was likely some form of shorebird.[11]


  1. ^ There is discussion in the IOC about renaming this species "white noddy" to reflect its relationships


  1. ^ a b c Baker, A.J.; Pereira, S.L.; Paton, T.A. (2007). "Phylogenetic relationships and divergence times of Charadriiformes genera: multigene evidence for the Cretaceous origin of at least 14 clades of shorebirds". Biology Letters. 3: 205–209. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0606Freely accessible.  "Erratum: Phylogenetic relationships and divergence times of Charadriiformes genera: multigene evidence for the Cretaceous origin of at least 14 clades of shorebirds". Biology Letters. 4: 762–763. 2008. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0606erratumFreely accessible. 
  2. ^ a b Dunn, Jon L. and Alderfer, Jonathan (2011). National Geographic Completely Birds of North America. National Geographic Society. ISBN 9781426213731. 
  3. ^ Rafinesque, Constantine Samuel (1815). Analyse de la nature ou, Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés (in French). Palermo: Self-published. p. 72. 
  4. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. pp. 138, 252. 
  5. ^ Christidis, Les; Boles, Walter E. (2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Canberra: CSIRO Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-643-06511-6. 
  6. ^ Sibley, Charles Gald & Ahlquist, Jon Edward (1990): Phylogeny and classification of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.
  7. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Coursers, noddies, gulls, terns, auks & sandgrouse". World Bird List Version 7.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 21 April 2017. 
  8. ^ Burger, J.; Gochfeld, M.; Bonan, A. "Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 22 April 2017. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ Mayr, Gerald (2011). "The phylogeny of charadriiform birds (shorebirds and allies) – reassessing the conflict between morphology and molecules". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (4): 916–934. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00654.xFreely accessible. 
  10. ^ Odeen, Anders; Håstad, Olle; Alström, Per (2010). "Evolution of ultraviolet vision in shorebirds (Charadriiformes)". Biology Letters. 6 (3): 370–74. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.0877. 
  11. ^ Moynihan, Martin (1959). A revision of the family Laridae (Aves) (PDF). American Museum Novitates. Number 1928. New York: American Museum of Natural History. 
  • Grant, Peter J. (1986) Gulls: a guide to identification Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".
  • Howell, Steve N. G. and Jon Dunn (2007) Gulls of the Americas Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".
  • Olsen, Klaus Malling & Larsson, Hans (1995): Terns of Europe and North America. Christopher Helm, London. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".

Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.

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