Visually Stunning Tree From All Known Life Unveiled Online | Imperial News
OneZoom is a unique site to explore all of life on Earth, its evolutionary history and how threatened it is with extinction.
OneZoom Explorer – available at onezoom.org – maps the connections between 2.2 million living species, which comes closest to a single view of all species known to science.
We’ve worked hard to make the tree easy for everyone to explore, and we also hope to send a powerful message: that much of our biodiversity is under threat. Dr James Rosindell
The interactive Tree of Life allows users to zoom in on any species and explore its relationships with others, in a seamless visualization on a single web page. The explorer also includes images of more than 85,000 species, as well as, where known, their vulnerability to extinction.
OneZoom was developed by Imperial College London biodiversity researcher Dr James Rosindell and evolutionary biologist from the University of Oxford. Dr Yan Wong. In an article published today in Methods in ecology and evolution, Drs. Wong and Rosindell present the result of more than ten years of work, gradually creating what they consider to be “the Google Earth of biology”.
Beautiful big data
Dr Wong, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, said: “By developing new algorithms for visualizing and processing data, and combining them with ‘big data’ collected from multiple sources , we have created something beautiful. It allows people to find their favorite living things, be they golden moles or giant sequoias, and see how the story of evolution connects them to create a giant tree of all life on Earth.
Dr Rosindell, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial Oil, said: “We have worked hard to make the tree easy for everyone to explore, and we also hope to send a powerful message: that a great part of our biodiversity is threatened.
The “leaves” representing each species on the tree are color coded according to their extinction risk: green for not threatened, red for threatened, and black for recently extinct. However, most of the tree’s leaves are gray, which means they haven’t been evaluated or scientists don’t have enough data to know their risk of extinction. Even among the species described by science, only a tiny fraction have been studied or are at known risk of extinction.
Dr Wong added, “It is extraordinary how much research remains to be done. Building the OneZoom Tree of Life was only possible through sophisticated methods of gathering and combining existing data – it would have been impossible to manage everything by hand.
Available to everyone
OneZoom Explorer is configured to work with touch screens, and the developers have made the software free to download and use by educational organizations such as museums and zoos.
Dr Rosindell commented: “Two million species may seem like too large a number to visualize, and no museum or zoo can contain them all! But our tool can help represent all species on Earth and allow visitors to connect with their plight. We hope that now this project is complete and available, many sites will be interested in using it to complement their existing postings.
For a festive treat, the team zooms in on the Christmas tree worm
Drs Rosindell and Wong also created a OneZoom charity with the aim of using their tree of life to “advance public education on the topics of evolution, biodiversity and conservation of the variety of life on Earth “.
Uniquely, to support this charity, every leaf on the tree is available for sponsorship, allowing anyone to “adopt” a species and allowing OneZoom to continue its mission. Over 800 sheets have currently been sponsored by selected individuals and organizations, many with personal messages about how they feel related to nature conservation.
Visit the tree of life
The team also integrated the tree into the Wikipedia project’s data to reveal the “popularity” of each species, based on how often their Wikipedia page is viewed. Dr Wong said, “Unsurprisingly, humans come out on top, but he has switched places a few times with the second most popular: the gray wolf – the ‘species’ that includes all domestic dogs. “
In the plant world, cannabis comes first, followed by cabbage, potato and coconut. The most popular ray-finned fish are sport fishing species, especially salmon and trout.
Now that the tree is complete, the team hopes to create bespoke ‘tours’ and experiences of connected species in imaginative new ways – such as tours of iridescent animals, medicinal plants, or even species bearing the. name of celebrities. They created a special screen capture tool for easy saving and sharing of user generated tours.
Dr Rosindell said: “With OneZoom, we hope to offer people a whole new way to appreciate the evolutionary history and the vastness of life on Earth in all its beauty.”
‘Dynamic visualization of trees with millions of points: the OneZoom project‘by Yan Wong and James Rosindell is published in Methods in ecology and evolution.