Date:October 16, 2006

Avian Tree of Life, American Museum of Natural History

Web design, information architecture, image maps, taxonomy, XML.

The American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Ornithology was a participant in the National Science Foundation’s Assembling the Tree of Life Initiative, a comprehensive taxonomic study of life, in collaboration with the Field Museum in Chicago and other institutions. I developed a prototype for a website devoted to the Avian tree.

The site contained a listing of the bird family by common name and scientific name as well as a graphical navigation tree that allowed users to browse the Avian Tree of Life. A page for each family, genus and species would include its position on the tree of life and the option to navigate to narrower or higher levels on the tree. It also contained a description of the node on the tree and citations of relevant research conducted in the museum’s DNA lab.

One of the problems the scientists were working on was the data coming out of the DNA lab, which suggested major and minor adjustments to the traditional placement of animals and entire groups within the avian tree. I had suggested and was working on an XML schema, mirroring the avian taxonomy and applying attributes to indicate a level of confidence that a node was placed in the correct position.

Site Map, Wireframes and Site Concept Deliverables (.PPT)
Quality Assurance Instructions (.DOC)

Proposed Site Map

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Navigating the Avian Tree of Life: Start with the major bird families

Subnavigation: subsequent cladograms are interective, bringing user to the next level in the family tree