go to the Tree of Life home 

About the Tree of Life Web Project

The Tree of Life Web Project is a collection of information about biodiversity compiled collaboratively by hundreds of expert and amateur contributors. Its goal is to contain a page with pictures, text, and other information for every species and for each group of organisms, living or extinct. Connections between Tree of Life web pages follow phylogenetic branching patterns between groups of organisms, so visitors can browse the hierarchy of life and learn about phylogeny and evolution as well as the characteristics of individual groups.

For background information about the Tree of Life Web Project, see this article in the special issue of the journal Zootaxa, Linnaeus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy:

Maddison, D. R., K.-S. Schulz, and W. P. Maddison. 2007. The Tree of Life Web Project. Pages 19-40 in: Zhang, Z.-Q. & Shear, W.A., eds. Linnaeus Tercentenary: Progress in Invertebrate Taxonomy. Zootaxa 1668:1-766. Open Access: Abstract (PDF; 20KB) | Full article (PDF; 830KB)

Here's an overview of the Tree of Life content:

  Scientific Materials (Core Content) Learning Materials Media
Resources Branch pages (supraspecific taxa), leaf pages (individual species or subspecies), also other articles and notes. Treehouses designed for a lay audience: investigations, stories, fun & games, art & culture, teacher resources, web quests, etc. Images, videos, audio files, presentations, animations, downloadable documents, etc.
Contributors Professional scientists Professional scientists, teachers, students, science enthusiasts

Content ManagementContent Management

ToL contributors use custom authoring tools to upload the tree structure, images and other materials for web pages. This information is stored in a series of databases, and web pages are created dynamically. This system provides great flexibility in the presentation of information. It supports the customization of content for different audiences and the sharing of materials with other projects. Read more about the Technical Implementation of the ToL...

Information Architecture

Materials stored in ToL databases, such as taxon names, text sections, images and other media are treated as objects that are attached to individual branching points in the phylogenetic hierarchy. By attaching objects to nodes in the tree, these objects become organized according to phylogenetic hypotheses in a nested, hierarchical schema. This design easily accommodates changes in phylogenetic hypotheses or nomenclatures. Read more about the ToL Information Architecture...

If you are curious about the ToL website, you will find plenty of background information about the project on the following pages. If you cannot find the topic you are interested in below, you can check the Sitemap for an overview of the different sections of the ToL site.

About the Tree of Life

About ToL

ToL News

Goals of the ToL


Structure of the ToL

ToL Home Picture



Citing the ToL