Tree of Life Web Project

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Tree of Life Web Project.PNG
DescriptionTree of Life Web Project
AuthorsDavid Maddison, Katja-Sabine Schulz, and Wayne Maddison
Release date1995

The Tree of Life Web Project is an Internet project providing information about the diversity and phylogeny of life on Earth.[1][2]

This collaborative peer reviewed project began in 1995, and is written by biologists from around the world; the site has not been updated since 2011, however the pages are still accessible.[3]

The pages are linked hierarchically, in the form of the branching evolutionary tree of life, organized cladistically;[1] each page contains information about one particular group of organisms and is organized according to a branched tree-like form, thus showing hypothetical relationships between different groups of organisms.

In 2009 the project ran into funding problems from the University of Arizona. Pages and Treehouses submitted took a considerably longer time to be approved as they were being reviewed by a small group of volunteers, and apparently, around 2011, all activities ended.[3]


The idea of this project started in the late 1980’s. David Maddison was working on a computer program MacClade during his PhD research; this is an application that give insight into species' phylogenetic trees. He wanted to extend this program with a feature that allowed the user to browse through phylogenetic trees and zoom into other lower or higher taxa.[4]

Hence, this association was not unique in a stand-alone application; the researchers came up with the idea to export the application into the world wide web and this was realized in 1995. From 1996-2011, over 300 biologists from around the globe added taxa web pages into the phylogeny browser.[4]


To ensure the quality of ToL project, the board made use of peer-review; the pages that were reviewed were sent to two or three researchers that specialized in the particular subject.[4] It is possible to visit the personal page of the author. If this is not accessible then the institution is always at the footnote.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Tree of Life Web Project" (PDF). Zootaxa. 1668: 1–766. 2007.
  2. ^ "Tree of Life project grows more leaves and branches". EurekAlert. 2006.
  3. ^ a b "Tree of Life Growth Monitor". Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  4. ^ a b c "Tree of Life Peer review". Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  5. ^ Goldstein, Adam M. (16 October 2010). "Exploring Phylogeny at the Tree of Life Web Project" (PDF). Evolution: Education and Outreach. 3 (4): 668–674. doi:10.1007/s12052-010-0288-z.

External links[edit]