Per Alström

researcher at Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal Ecology

+4618-471 2702
Mobile phone:
+46 70 4546965
Visiting address:
Evolutionsbiologiskt centrum (EBC)
Norbyvägen 18 D
Postal address:
Norbyvägen 18 D
752 36 UPPSALA

Short presentation


My research concerns taxonomy, systematics and evolution of birds, especially Asian passerines.


Keywords: evolution systematics taxonomy ornithology birds

Here are various talks, presentations and interviews that I've given in recent years.


Former employments at Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; Swedish Species Information Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala; and Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm

Deputy Editor-In-Chief Avian Research

My research concerns taxonomy, systematics and evolution of birds, especially Asian passerines.

Avian tree of life
I use molecular data to reconstruct the phylogeny ("tree of life") of different groups of birds. I have been involved in comprehensive studies of multiple avian families, which have revealed previously unexpected relationships and complex evolutionary patterns; e.g. Emberizidae (Alström et al. 2008), Acrocephalidae (Fregin et al. 2009), Muscicapidae (Sangster et al. 2010), Cettiidae (Alström et al. 2011), Locustellidae (Alström et al. 2011, Alström et al. 2018), Alaudidae (Alström et al. 2013), Cisticolidae (Olsson et al. 2013), Prunellidae (Liu et al. 2017), Phylloscopidae (Alström et al. 2018), the 2–7 ‘babbler’ families (depending on taxonomy; Gelang et al. 2009, Cibois et al. 2018, Cai et al. 2019), Laniidae (Fuchs et al. 2019) and Estrildidae (Olsson & Alström 2020), and the superfamily Sylvioidea (Alström et al. 2006, Fregin et al. 2012; review paper: Alström et al. 2013) and the large Passerida clade (including description of a new family of birds: Alström et al. 2014), as well as the first genomic-level studies of all passerine families (Oliveros et al. 2019) and all avian orders (Jarvis et al. 2014).

I have also been involved in phylogenetic and/or phylogeographic studies of smaller groups, such as genera of parts of genera, e.g. Acrocephalus (Olsson et al. 2016), Aegithalos (Wang et al. 2014, Zhang et al. 2017), Anthus (Alström et al. 2015), Alaudala (Ghorbani et al. 2020), Calandrella (Stervander et al. 2016), Cyornis (Zhang et al. 2016, Singh et al. 2020), Eremophila (Ghorbani et al. 2020), Ficedula (Hooper et al. 2016), Heteromirafra (Spottiswoode et al. 2013), Larvivora (Zhao et al. 2017), Motacilla (Alström et al. 2015, Li et al. 2016, Harris et al. 2018), Phylloscopus/Seicercus (Irwin et al. 2001, Olsson et al. 2004, Olsson et al. 2005), Pica (Song et al. 2018), Scotocerca (Alström et al. 2011), Tichodroma (Zhao et al. 2016), Turdus (Nylander et al. 2008) and Zoothera (Olsson & Alström 2013).

Taxonomy of birds
I use an integrative taxonomic approach, involving analyses of e.g. morphology, vocalisations, behaviour, DNA, ecology and geographical distributions, to study the taxonomy of birds. These studies have resulted in a significant increase in the number of recognised species in the studied groups, including the description of seven new species and one new subspecies to science. E.g. within the genera Acrocephalus, Alaudala (Alström et al. 2020), Brachypteryx (Alström et al. 2018), Calandrella (Alström & Sundev 2020), Carpodacus (Liu et al. 2020), Calliope (Liu et al. 2016), Cyornis (Zhang et al. 2016, Gwee et al. 2019, Singh et al. 2020), Emberiza (Olsson et al. 2013), Eremophila (Ghorbani et al. 2020), Ficedula (Dong et al. 2015), Horornis/Cettia (Alström et al. 2007, Wei et al. 2019), Lanius (Olsson et al. 2009), Locustella/Bradypterus (Alström et al. 2008, Alström et al. 2015, incl. new species: L. chengi), Motacilla (Duckworth et al. 2001, new species: M. samveasnae), Mirafra (Alström 1998), Phylloscopus/Seicercus (Alström & Olsson 1990, Alström & Olsson 1992, Alström et al. 1993, Olsson et al. 1993, new specie: P. hainanus; Alström & Olsson 1995, new species: P. emeiensis; Alström et al. 1995, Alström et al. 1997, Alström & Olsson 1999, incl. new species: S. soror; Alström & Olsson 2000, Alström et al. 2010, incl. new species: P. calciatilis, Alström et al. 2011, Zhang et al. 2019), Pica (Song et al. 2018), Prinia (Alström et al. 2020; incl. new subspecies: P. polychroa deignani), Sylvia (Olsson et al. 2013) and Zoothera (Alström et al. 2016, incl. new species: Z. salimalii).

Evolution of birds
I am also very interested in various evolutionary questions, and I have been involved in studies of such diverse subjects as speciation (e.g. Alström et al. 2015), evolution of different geographical avifaunas (Johansson et al. 2007, Price et al. 2014, Lei et al. 2015, He et al. 2019, Cai et al. 2020), evolution of vocalisations of some passerine groups (Xia et al. 2013, Xing et al. 2013, Wei et al. 2017), evolution of UV vision in shorebirds (Ödeen et al. 2009) and passerines (Ödeen et al. 2011), biogeography of several groups of birds (Saitoh et al. 2010, Song et al. 2016, Liu et al. 2017, Song et al. 2020), pitfalls of comparisons of genetic distances (Fregin et al. 2012), species concepts (Alström 2006), and genome evolution (Zhang et al. 2014). These studies have used an array of data, e.g. phylogenetic, morphological, ecological, paleoclimatic, and distributional (including “big data” from e.g. GBIF), and a plethora of analytical methods.

Download CV for complete publication list.
See also ResearchGate and ORCID

- Talk on my research on the largest avian radiation, the passerines, here
- Talk on the identification of Asian leaf warblers that are vagrants to Europe, here
- Presentation of my ornithological explorations in China and Mongolia, here (begins at c. 44 mins – but don’t miss the others’ presentations before me!)
- Talk (sound and pdf) on the identification of some Asian birds that turn up as vagrants in Europe, here
- Presentation of the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative, here
- Birdwatching part 1: Common Kingfisher/kungsfiskare (in Swedish), here
- Birdwatching part 2: Small lake with grebes etc. / Sunnerstaviken (in Swedish), here
- Birdwatching part 3: Along the river Fyrisån (in Swedish), here

- Interview, Uppsala University "Research profile" (in Swedish), here See also here (English) or here (Swedish)
- Interview Radio Beijing International here.
- Interview/talk about my research on birds with David Lindo, the Urban Birder, May 2020, here
- Interview/talk about my research on birds with David Lindo, the Urban Birder, Oct 2020, here

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