Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Who's zooming who? Frogs, fractals and the tree of life

Date:
December 18, 2012
Source:
British Ecological Society (BES)
Summary:
As ecologists assemble ever larger parts of the tree of life, whose evolutionary branches connect the millions of species on Earth, they need better ways of presenting and organizing information. Now, a biologist has developed a revolutionary way of visualizing the tree of life.

A biologist has developed a revolutionary way of visualising the tree of life.
Credit: OneZoom, copyright James Rosindell

As ecologists assemble ever larger parts of the tree of life, whose evolutionary branches connect the millions of species on Earth, they need better ways of presenting and organising information. Now, biologist Dr James Rosindell of Imperial College London has developed a revolutionary way of visualising the tree of life. He will demonstrate his new software, which could evolve into a biological equivalent of Google Earth, at this week's British Ecological Society Annual Meeting at the University of Birmingham.

Related Articles


Inspired by fractals -- the beautiful, repeating and infinitely complex patterns commonly found in nature -- OneZoom will help ecologists solve the problem of how to present vast amounts of information. And by doing so in an attractive, accessible fashion it could also inspire members of the public.

Developed with Dr Luke Harmon of the University of Idaho, OneZoom is based on the simple idea that all life of Earth can be contained on one page, where users access the information by simply zooming in and out of different areas. According to Dr Rosindell: "It's very much like exploring a map, zooming in on areas of interest to provide further details. By using the zooming concept the amount of information that can be placed on the page is limitless."

To ensure there are interesting things to see at different scales of zoom, Dr Rosindell used fractal-based algorithms similar to those used to produce detailed zoomable images that -- like the Mandelbrot set -- resemble plants and trees. "The only difference is now these are more than just pretty pictures that are fun to explore, they also become goldmines of information," he explains.

Taking this approach solves the problems associated with existing methods, says Dr Rosindell: "These are four-fold: we can't display very large trees; we can't use our intuition easily when looking at large tree diagrams; there are limited ways to add information about species and their common ancestors on the tree; and the tree visualisations tend not to be beautiful. It's easy to overlook beauty in data visualisation, but making things beautiful and enticing is important if we want the public to get interested in science."

As well as allowing the tree of life to be visualised in an intuitive, beautiful and fun fashion, OneZoom could open up new and interactive ways of publishing scientific results, he predicts: "I call these IFIGs -- interactive fractal inspired graphs -- and I think interactive graphs will become commonplace in scientific work."

Rosindell's ultimate aim is a biological equivalent of Google Earth. International collaborations already exist to collect the data, but they need visualisation tools like OneZoom to bring them to life. "My dream is to create the 'Google Maps of biology': a single page built around the tree of life with all described species, living and extinct, plus photos, maps and information on evolutionary paths. And it's something I want to make available for free on the web as well as in apps, educational packages and customisable displays at zoos, museums and science centres."

Dr James Rosindell will present OneZoom on December 18, 2012 to the British Ecological Society's Annual Meeting at the University of Birmingham.

Video: http://www.onezoom.org/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Ecological Society (BES). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

British Ecological Society (BES). "Who's zooming who? Frogs, fractals and the tree of life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217234946.htm>.
British Ecological Society (BES). (2012, December 18). Who's zooming who? Frogs, fractals and the tree of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217234946.htm
British Ecological Society (BES). "Who's zooming who? Frogs, fractals and the tree of life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217234946.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins