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Tree of Life Web Services

The Tree of Life offers the following web services:

ToL Group ID Service
This service returns information about taxon names and ToL identifiers. You will need ToL ids in order to specify the branches of the tree for which you want to download data.
ToL Tree Structure Service
This service returns the tree structure for a given branch of the tree, along with group names and properties of groups.
ToL Page Content Service
This service returns the content (text) of ToL branch and leaf pages for a given branch of the tree.
ToL Media Service
This service returns media files from the ToL collection for a given branch of the tree.

Before using ToL web services, please see our Disclaimers and Terms of Use.

Group ID Service


The Group ID Service url is:


where xxx is the name of the group for which you want to retrieve the unique ToL identifier.


The Group ID Service takes a single string query parameter, group, which is the name of the group which you want to locate in the ToL database. For example, if you want to find the groups in the ToL that match the name Bembidion, the complete url is:


The group parameter will be matched to names attached to nodes in the ToL database. Matches can be made either with "official ToL node names" (usually valid scientific names) or "other ToL names" (e. g., synonyms, English names, names indicating different taxonomic ranks).

Response Format

The response is an XML document, with a single NODES element wrapping one or more NODE elements. The NODES element has a single numeric attribute, COUNT, which indicates the number of NODE elements contained in the response file. Each NODE element has a single numeric attribute, ID, which is the node's unique id in the ToL. The NODE element will also contain a NAME element, which is the node's "official" name in the ToL database.


<?xml version="1.0" standalone="yes"?>
<NODE ID="194">

If the group parameter can be matched exactly, the service will return only those exact matches. If only partial matches can be made, all partial matches will be returned. For example, a search for Bembidion, will result in a single perfect match with name for the genus Bembidion, so only one NODE element will be returned; while a search for Bembidi will return multiple NODE elements for partial matches, e. g., for the genus Bembidion, the species of Bembidion, Bembidiina, Bembidiini, etc.

If there is more than one match to a query, NODE elements will also contain a PARENTGROUP element which provides the name of the group's parent group in the ToL. If there are no matches to a query, there is a single ERROR element that contains text explaining the cause of the error.

The ToL is a collaborative project with resources provided by many different contributors. Different pages or media files in the ToL collection are subject to different licenses for reuse and redistribution. Please see the pages for each specific web service for details about the permitted uses of data.

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