On 3 June, the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium announced its 'Bird 10K' project to generate draft genome sequences for about 10,500 extant bird species over the next 5 years.

The sequences, along with data we aim to collect on the morphological, physiological, ecological and behavioural traits of every bird species, will inform studies on avian evolution, ecology, population genetics, neurobiology, development and conservation. They could also be useful for investigating infections that pass from animals to humans, such as avian influenza.

This wealth of information will allow us to complete the genomic tree of life for modern birds. We hope to decode the links between genotypes and phenotypes; to determine genetic evolutionary, biogeographical and biodiversity relationships across species; and to evaluate how ecological factors and humans affect bird evolution.

We plan to conduct the project in four phases, based on the avian classification hierarchy. The first, ordinal phase (for 34 orders of birds) has been accomplished (see also G. Zhang et al. Science 346, 1308–1309; 2014). Collection of genomic data for the second, familial phase (about 240 families) is ongoing. Specimen and trait-data collection for the third phase (2,250 genera) and the fourth phase (the remaining 8,000 or so species) is under way. See http://b10k.genomics.cn for more information.