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The tree of life links all biodiversity through a shared evolutionary history. This project will produce the first online, comprehensive first-draft tree of all 1.8 million named species, accessible to both the public and scientific communities. Assembly of the tree will incorporate previously-published results, with strong collaborations between computational and empirical biologists to develop, test and improve methods of data synthesis. This initial tree of life will not be static; instead, we will develop tools for scientists to update and revise the tree as new data come in. Early release of the tree and tools will motivate data sharing and facilitate ongoing synthesis of knowledge.
The Museum is committed to open access and open science, and has launched the Data Portal to make its research and collections datasets available online. It allows anyone to explore, download and reuse the data for their own research. Our natural history collection is one of the most important in the world, documenting 4.5 billion years of life, the Earth and the solar system. Almost all animal, plant, mineral and fossil groups are represented. These datasets will increase exponentially. Under the Museum's ambitious digital collections programme we aim to have 20 million specimens digitised in the next five years.
TEAM is devoted to monitoring long-term trends in biodiversity, land cover change, climate and ecosystem services in tropical forests. Tropical forests received first billing because of their overwhelming significance to the global biosphere (e.g., their disproportionately large role in global carbon and energy cycles) and because of the extraordinary threats they face. About 50 percent of the species described on Earth, and an even larger proportion of species not yet described, occur in tropical forests. TEAM aims to measure and compare plants, terrestrial mammals, ground-dwelling birds and climate using a standard methodology in a range of tropical forests, from relatively pristine places to those most affected by people. TEAM currently operates in sixteen tropical forest sites across Africa, Asia and Latin America supporting a network of scientists committed to standardized methods of data collection to quantify how plants and animals respond to pressures such as climate change and human encroachment.