We invite you to roam through the ToL and explore
Life on Earth!
ToL Learning Tour
- Browse ToL page types and media
- Suggested routes for exploring the ToL
- Four Ways of Learning with the ToL
The Tree of Life is composed of several different types of pages that you can visit. Core scientific content branch and leaf pages are authored only by expert biologists, while notes, other articles and treehouses are authored by biologists, learners and science enthusiasts from around the world.
To view different types of ToL pages and media either click on the image map above or click the links below. Note that the links will open up in a new browser window.
ToL Page Types
- Root Page: Life on Earth
The ToL starts with the root of all life on Earth and moves up from there.
- The backbone of the Tree of Life project consists of branch and leaf pages created by expert biologists. Each of these pages provides a brief explanation of the most important characteristics of a particular group of organisms and their evolutionary history. The organization of branch and leaf pages reflects the genetic connections between all living things.
- Branch Page: pages about inclusive groups of organisms, consisting of several species.
- Leaf Page: pages about groups at the tip of the tree of life, e.g., individual species.
- Rana perezi (part of the Western Palearctic water frogs group). This page has sound recordings of the frog's voice.
- In addition to branch and leaf pages, the ToL project features articles, notes and treehouses. These pages are authored by biologists, learners and science enthusiasts.
- Other Articles: pages with additional, in-depth scientific content about a particular group of organisms.
- Notes: pages with brief scientific accounts, lists, keys, or media galleries about a particular group of organisms.
- Treehouses: Pages for learners and the young at heart.
Media on the ToL
- The ToL also has many images of organisms, and a growing body of movie and audio files.
- The Picture Sampler: View pictures of groups of organisms on the Tree of Life.
- Try the Picture Sampler for Salientia (frogs and toads).
- Image Search: Search for images in the Tree of Life database.
- Try searching for your favorite organism. We recommend you try typing text in either the "text in any image data field" or the "images of organisms in group" field.
- Coming soon: ways to search for movies and sound files.
For more information about how the Tree of Life is organized into different pages, see the Structure of the Tree of Life, where you can visit some exemplary pages and read more about each ToL page category (see the Categories of Tree of Life section).
- Browse groups of organisms
- Visit the weekly "Learn About"... section
- Move from the root of all Life on Earth out to the branches and tips of the tree.
- Go to the ToL home page and click on the image on the very bottom left of the tree. This image will take you to the root of the tree, Life on Earth. You can begin to explore from there, or you can return to the home page and select other images on the tree.
- As you move up the tree and to the right, the other images you select (the flower, frog, butterfly etc.) will take you to visit major groups (branch pages) on the Tree (Eukaryotes, angiosperms, fungi, animals, arthropods, and terrestrial vertebrates).
- This is a nice way to begin exploring the ToL that will also help introduce you to how the structure of the Tree of Life reflects the genetic connections between all Life on Earth.
To learn with the Tree of Life (the ToL) and become a ToL contributor, it is important to first learn about the ToL. In the Introduction to Learning with the Tree of Life WebQuest you will play the role of students and/or biologists who have been invited to become contributors to the ToL and present at the ToL Biodiversity Conference in the Galapagos. In the process of exploring the ToL in this WebQuest you will visit ToL pages to learn about:
- Different ToL page types, who authors them and how to browse them.
- Opportunities to contribute ToL pages and media
- Where to find documentation for contributing
- The phylogenetic organization of the ToL, and resources for learning about phylogeny
- Move from the leaves of the tree down the branches and to the root of all Life on Earth.
- Look for Species
- A fun activity for exploring is to see how long it takes you to get to go from the root of the Tree to a Leaf page at the Tree's tip. Some good groups to start from are the Cephalopoda (squids, octopi, and related molluscs) and the Coleoptera (beetles). You can also visit the first section of the ToL Sample Pages to see groups on the ToL that are developed up to the species level.
- Can you guess what leaf page on the ToL we have for humans? You can do a search to find it.
- Get help with navigating
- To get a better understanding of how to navigate through the Tree of Life, visit Navigating the Tree of Life. This page will help you understand how to use the right and left sidebars, the tree diagrams and the top navigation bar to explore the ToL.
The ToL provides four different ways of interacting with ToL learning resources, from the least interactive (browsing) to the most interactive (becoming a treehouse builder and creating ToL treehouse web pages). Visit Four Ways of Learning with the ToL to find out more about these learning opportunities.