The Research Group is Moving!

During winter term 2021/22, we move to University of Bamberg. From Oct. 15, 2021, Fabian Beck holds a full professor position on Information Visualization.

New webpage of the research group:


Publications of the research group since 2016. For earlier publications, please visit Fabian Beck's Google Scholar or DBLP profile.

Task-based assessment of visualization tools for the comparison of biological taxonomies

Type of Publication: Article in Journal

Task-based assessment of visualization tools for the comparison of biological taxonomies

Sancho-Chavarria, Lilliana; Beck, Fabian; Weiskopf, Daniel; Mata-Montero, Erick
Title of Journal:
Research Ideas and Outcomes
Volume (Publication Date):
4 (2018)
Number of Issue:
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Link to complete version:
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Maintenance and curation of large-sized biological taxonomies are complex and laborious activities. Information visualization systems use interactive visual interfaces to facilitate analytical reasoning on complex information. Several approaches such as treemaps, indented lists, cone trees, radial trees, and many others have been used to visualize and analyze a single taxonomy. In addition, methods such as edge drawing, animation, and matrix representations have been used for comparing trees. Visualizing similarities and differences between two or more large taxonomies is harder than the visualization of a single taxonomy. On one hand, less space is available on the screen to display each tree; on the other hand, differences should be highlighted. The comparison of two alternative taxonomies and the analysis of a taxonomy as it evolves over time provide fundamental information to taxonomists and global initiatives that promote standardization and integration of taxonomic databases to better document biodiversity and support its conservation. In this work we assess how ten user visualization tasks for the curation of biological taxonomies are supported by several visualization tools. Tasks include the identification of conditions such as congruent taxa, splits, merges, and new species added to a taxonomy. We consider tools that have gone beyond the prototype stage, that have been described in peer-reviewed publications, or are in current use. We conclude with the identification of challenges for future development of taxonomy comparison tools.