WWW Phylogenetic Navigator
maddison at AG.ARIZONA.EDU
Wed Nov 16 10:28:43 CST 1994
We would like to introduce you to a project we have begun, called "The Tree
of Life: A Phylogenetic Navigator for the Internet". It is available for
browsing at the WWW URL "http://phylogeny.arizona.edu/tree/phylogeny.html"
(if you don't know what a WWW URL is, read on). The Tree of Life is still
in prototype stage, and we hope that you will find it intriguing enough to
give us suggestions and perhaps even collaborate with us.
The Tree of Life consists of a series of (electronic) pages, each written
in the World Wide Web HTML language, and therefore accessible over the
Internet to browsers like Mosaic. Each page shows a phylogeny or
classification for a particular clade:
>From each page one can wander to broader phylogenetic scales by touching on
the root or to finer resolutions by touching on the terminal taxa. In this
way, one can wander up and down and across the whole tree of life. Each of
these pages might have figures and information about the clade, as well as
jump points to electronic information about the taxon beyond that contained
in the Tree of Life system. At the tips of the tree will be pages of
information and figures about particular species. The Tree of Life will be
dispersed across the Internet, with the home server and root of the tree
residing here, but
particular clades of organisms at various other sites.
More information on the Tree of Life, including its goals and structure, is
available at the URL (i.e., address) given above
This URL points to the home page, and it will lead you into the tree itself.
You might want to browse around the home page itself, and go to
the various documents refered to therein to discussions of the system, how
to use it, plans for the future, and so on. Many of these documents are
under construction; we hope you can forgive the dust and scaffolding and
enjoy the vision of what is to come!
Our work on this project involves developing a standard visual display and set
of protocols for this phylogenetic map to electronic information about
organisms. In addition to working on the protocols, we are developing a set
of tools to make production of pages of the tree easy. We are also
maintaining the basal branches of the Tree and working on sites for our own
special groups of organisms.
We hope that others, including some of you, will become interested in
helping us expand the tree, by building their own Tree of Life sites that
can be attached to the existing Tree along the appropriate branch. Your
site could be primarily phylogenetic in focus, discussing and depicting the
phylogeny of your group, or it could be primarily taxonomic in focus,
showing (color!) figures and diagnoses and keys to the various species.
The tree itself is currently very incomplete. We have put most work
in Arthropods, especially in the insects. But in many groups only
one of several competing hypotheses is shown (yes, the system will have
a capacity to handle alternative hypotheses - we will add some examples
in insects), and in others existing phylogenetic knowledge is not yet shown.
Other information, including about Internet sites, has yet to be added to
Some pathways up the tree we might recommend are on the page
"Browsing suggestions for the Tree of Life". A link to this page
is partway down the first, home page, in the list of documents at
the home site.
If you do have any suggestions or comments, please send us a note at
tree at phylogeny.arizona.edu.
David and Wayne Maddison
Department of Entomolgy
University of Arizona
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona
More information about the Taxacom