The Brina C. Kssell Publication Award is a new award and is for the best paper in The Auk published within the past 4 years (2014-2017). It is to given in even numbered years, which complements the Painton Award given in odd numbered years for the best paper in the Condor.
The first Brina Kessell Publication Award given in 2018 goes to:
F. Keith Barker, Kevin J. Burns, John Klicka, Scott M. Lanyon, and Irby J. Lovette for their article published in 2015, entitled, “New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies.”
The authors bring to bear modern molecular and analytical techniques to address a long-standing question in ornithology (and biogeography generally) that Ernst Mayr attempted to address in 1946: what are the origins of the New World avifauna? Over 800 species of the nine-primaried oscines of the large clade Emberizoidea were sampled to develop a phylogeny that was combined with a temporal and biogeographic analysis. It established that the emberizoid ancestors entered the New World through Beringia, and rapidly diverged in North America to also produce a clade that entered and diversified in South America. Subsequent dispersal between North and South America, especially after formation of the Isthmus of Panama, was mostly north to south (as also seen in mammals). These results largely confirmed Mayr’s speculations. This work stood out for its strong grounding in a deep historical question that has vexed ornithologists, for the thoroughness of its sampling, and for a strong quantitative treatment of the large data set.
Barker, F. K., K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and I. J. Lovette. 2015. New insights into New World biogeography: An integrated view from the phylogeny of blackbirds, cardinals, sparrows, tanagers, warblers, and allies. Auk 132:333-348.
(Direct link to article: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1642/AUK-14-110.1)