Commons:WikiProject Tree of Life

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This WikiProject aims primarily to document in photograph, sound and video all living beings past and present. For this, we use the taxonomy of Wikispecies, which we adhere to as much as possible. Wikispecies aims to describe the taxonomy and for encyclopedias we need media to put in that. Collecting, identifying and categorising the free media is what this project is aimed at.

There are millions of species and Tree of Life aims to have media for them all. This means that it might well become the largest database with media on species on earth. E.g. to document a plant well, we should have at least photos of the plant in several stages of development, the flower, the leaves, the stem, the calyx, the bark (for trees) and the seedpods and seeds, which amounts to some 10 pictures per plant. Good quality images might well be 1 Mb each, and at 300.000 known plants we could end up with 300.000 x 10 Mb = 3 Tb. Then there are some 800.000 known insects. For animals, we will also want to have video and sound, requiring even more space.

Some pages exist to better treat specific groups:


The speed at which species are being lost is much faster than any we've seen in the past -- including those [extinctions] related to meteor collisions. Daniel Simberloff

Note: the last mass extinction caused by a meteor collision was that of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.

With the current threat of mass extinction, the documentation of the threatened species is of immense importance. If we do not know what we try to protect, how will we ever be able to save it? If people can't see and hear the biodiversity, why would they do anything to save it?


Each species gets its own article, titled with the scientific name. Even if there are generally accepted english names, remember that this is an international project. Note that

  • Names of genera are always italicized and capitalized — Homo, Rosa, Saccharomyces.
  • en:Species epithets are always italicized and preceded by the name of the genus — Homo sapiens ( The shorthand H. sapiens should preferably be avoided), and never plain sapiens, since such identifiers need not be unique. They are never capitalized.
  • Names of higher taxa are capitalized but not italicized — Hominidae, Mammalia, Animalia.

The primary purpose of the article is to serve as a gallery for all images (and other media, such as bird songs) for the species. The top of the article should include the scientific name, authority, and optionally mentions of larger taxa, such as families. It may also contain a selection of familiar names for the species in different languages.

The form of the gallery is not prescribed, and depends on the number of files available. Useful structuring is to make separate galleries for subspecies or varieties, or to separate maps and scientific illustrations from photographs.

The article should be categorized in at least one higher taxon, typically a genus or family category, and have interwiki links to the corresponding species articles in the various WPs.

It is useful to have articles for genera, in which the gallery consists of a representative image for each species, along with a link to the species article.

The wikiprojects suggested above may well define their own quality aspects. What is a good quality media for an insect might well be totally different from that for a bird or mammal.


Major groups should be given their own categories. When possible, these should use the scientific name. In general, only articles about major subgroups should be added, and more specific articles should be included in subcategories. However, when there are only a few articles about members of the group, they can all go directly into the main category. Use your judgement on when to split, aiming for an approximate category size of 10-50 articles.

For genus categories, particular plant genera that may get large, it is helpful to sort the category by species epithet (second half of the name). It does not change the ordering in the category, but each first letter gets its own subheading in the category listing. Use Capitalized specific epithets for this purpose - [[Category:Category:Genus|Species]] -, to make the subheadings easier to read.

Note that in addition to taxa, categories may also contain informal subgroups. For instance Category:Lepidoptera may include an article or subcategory for moths, although they are not a valid monophyletic taxon. Such vernacular categories should never be given scientific names (see also Category:Animals by common named groups). Taxonomic categories may also include some other articles or categories that pertain specifically and notably to members of the group, although they are not about the taxon itself.

Conversely, taxon categories may be contained not only in the higher-level taxonomic group as is always required, but in categories such as "Parasites" if they apply to the whole taxon. In this case, do not use the category for genera, species and other lower-level members of the taxon.


All images should be put directly in the most precise category to which they can be reliably assigned. Images that are known with certainty to represent a particular species should appear in the species article and images not so well-identified must not be. Since users of the images in the Wikipedias, Wikibooks, etc, are likely to take the assignments as authoritative, care is advised; it is better to leave an image at the family level than to guess at a genus or species.

Over time, this will result in categories tending to accumulate all the "don't know" or "unsure" images; we encourage knowledgeable persons to review those images from time to time and decide if any picture and/or its description includes sufficient evidence to make a more specific identification.

Images of living things that are of encyclopedic value are encouraged. Consider an image of a bird, for example. While there will probably be many images of that bird just perching and not doing anything, there are often few that show something unique and informative about it. Examples may include the animal feeding, grooming itself, hatching from an egg, defending a territory, or building a nest. Images of species in their natural habitat are also valued. Images such as these may be harder to obtain, but are of great value to the project.


See Commons:Requested pictures#Biology


Both wanted-lists and identification units for unidentified images have been suggested. Please add them to the relevant projects.


CC-licenced scientific journals (always verify license before uploading).

Related WikiProjects[edit]


  • User:TeunSpaans Initiator. Contributing Plantae, Fungi and Lepidoptera.
  • User:Reisio plans on taking (more) pictures of stuff in Florida and helping with identifying things
  • User:Stan Shebs is already working through plants of western North America (native and in botanical gardens), plus aquatic life when visiting aquaria. =
  • User:Sam916 is cleaning up random pages of plants and animals.
  • User:JoJan : I've uploaded already more than 6,000 images, many of them images of plants. Now and then I've already helped in identifying unnamed plants. I'm a participant in the WikiProject:Tree of Life on the en.wikipedia.
  • User:Shyamal Small contributions on various visible taxa found in the Indian region.
  • User:Yosemite is Japanese Wikipedian. I have a little knowledge for biology,but I'll try to take a picture than better.
  • User:Cotinis: Contributing images of North American insects, especially, with a few vertebrates. I'm a skiled amateur entomologist and botanist. I'll work on North American plants in the future. Also will contribute some public domain artwork of birds and other taxa.
  • User:WayneRay presently working with several other participants in moving photos into articles and creating new articles and categories.
  • Eugene van der Pijll. I have already uploaded many PD-USGov pictures of animals and plants (one per species, to illustrate en.wikipedia articles) from several sources, and will continue to do so.
  • User:Ayacop has been doing plant book uploads and sporadically moving photos into species articles, using taxonomic databases.
  • Jeffdelonge French contributor working on plants and animals from Europe. I've uplooaded lot of picts and more than 400 good quality picts of insects from Entomart.ins and i try to maintain unity of presentation (valid scientific name and author). My reference is Actually I try to use material from commons to make stubs on french wikipedia (picts, taxonavigation and lower taxons -list of european species-) to build a solid skull for others contributors. I work also on identification gallery (fr:galerie des Cerambycidae for exemple) easy to reuse in other language.
  • OpenCage Japanese contributor. Taking photo of insects, animals and plants in the urban nature and zoo also aquarium. I am originally offering various photos on (in Japanese) under CC 2.5 license.
  • Snottygobble. Australian plants, especially Proteaceae, especially Banksia. Interested in helping establish article and category conventions for biota. Snottygobble 02:34, 25 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Andrew massyn Moraea123. South Africa - mostly Western Cape
  • Wsiegmund 15:49, 1 October 2006 (UTC) Northwest coast of North America. I'm contributing images with locations.Reply[reply]
  • MPF. Mainly plants, special expertise in conifers, trees more generally. Also some birds.
  • SB_Johnny. Plants, insects, and other horticulturally-related media.
  • ltshears. I will be helping on the bird and mammal pages as i can..
  • User:Tony Wills. Mar 2007. I will be active in the bird and insect pages and maybe plants. I would love to see standard presentation and classification etc generally agreed upon as there seems to be too much of people undoing others work simply because there's no right way to do it.
  • Denis Barthel Active in Lilium, Carnivorous plants and mycoheterotrophic plants.
  • AshLin & my declared sock-puppet Nature Loader (Used to load images for those who do not have internet access or do not wish to do so themselves) - Images of Lepidoptera, Serpentes, Aves and plants from India.
  • User:FunkMonk. Mainly contributing with paleontology-related images, but also images of extant animals occasionally.
  • User:Dysmorodrepanis. Taxonomy stuff and some content.
  • User:Atudu-Contributing Lepidoptera, flowers and macro species found in India.
  • User:Strobilomyces Interested in fungi.

Sample articles[edit]


Animalia: Vertebrata: Aves

Animalia: Vertebrata: Reptilia

Animalia: Vertebrata: Amphibia

Animalia: Arthropoda

To Do[edit]

Identification Unit[edit]

List images here that require identification. If you are able to identify any, edit the image page to include an accurate description as well as correct categories (and place the image on a gallery page if appropriate). If you have determined the identification either by yourself or from persons other than yourself, note the name and contact information of the determiner.

Remove them from these lists after they have been identified.