LifeGate 2022, created by Leipzig University researcher Martin Freiberg, is an attempt to arrange all known species (about 2.6 million) in an interactive zoomable user interface.
“I wanted to construct LifeGate in such a way that all species are of equal value, and that the incredible diversity of species can really be experienced and understood,” Dr. Freiberg explained.
LifeGate 2022 contains more than 150,000 photographs and more than 12,000 distinct phylogenetic trees.
The map view provides different levels of taxonomic detail and can be navigated by zooming between the following color-coded taxonomic levels: domain, phylum (the starting point of the map), class, order, family, genus, and species.
The surface area of a taxonomic group is relative to the number of its species — more species rich clades are represented with a larger area.
For instance, there are more than twice as many ant species in the family Formicidae than in the whole class of mammals.
Within a group, taxa are arranged so as to reflect their phylogenetic relationships.
Taxa with fewer species (often constituting relict taxa of phylogenetically older branches) have been placed to the lower left corner of their respective edge. Only living taxa are shown.
For the individual taxon, additional information can be retrieved, including phylogenetic trees.
Many of the cells have already been filled with photographs showing a representative of the respective taxon.
“During its creation, I based it on the family trees of nature,” Dr. Freiberg said.
“Biologists describe the phylogenetic evolution and relationships of living organisms in so-called phylogenies.”
“Only modern phylogenies already based on DNA analyses have found a place in LifeGate.”
“Such representations are usually limited to individual groups of species and show only birds or frogs, only begonias, orchids or only butterflies, for example.”
“I’ve brought the phylogenies together, in painstaking detail for the first time, so that the relationship positions of all species can actually be shown at the same time.”
“LifeGate began as a scientific clarification project for my students,” he added.
“Pictures are more memorable than mere numbers and make the topic of biodiversity more accessible. This is why the map also fascinates amateurs and laypeople. Not only biologists go to the zoo.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/biology/lifegate-11046.html