3D Visualization and Analysis of Ecological Networks on WWW

S. Yoon, I. Yoon, R. Williams, N. Martinez, and J. Dunne (USA)


food webs, graph visualization, web3D, XML


Food webs describe who eats whom among species within a habitat, and these networks depicting food chains have long been a central paradigm for understanding simple and complex networks in many scientific and social arenas. The structure of the feeding links within diverse food webs typically generates highly complex and dense networks whose details are critical to the behavior of ecosystems. Due to these issues, food webs are it is both difficult and very important to visualize and study food webs. In this paper, we describe 3D visualizations of food webs that address these difficulties with cylindrical node placement, minimal edge-crossing and link length, hierarchical node aggregation, and color-schemes representing different characteristics (trophic level, connectivity, generality, vulnerability, taxonomy, and biomass) of network nodes and links. These visualizations simplify the complexity, illuminate insightful information and provide an effective analysis on top of ecological Semantic Web. We describe our deployment of "Webs on the Web" (WoW) visualization and analysis tools on the world wide web to facilitate food-web research, collaboration and education. Given the variety of 3D visualization technologies on the WWW, our WoW visualization pipeline based on semantic web supports diverse formats and adapts to users' preferences by employing XML and a flexible architecture. Currently, WoW uses XML to semantically markup food web data (FoodWebML), extracts visual information into X3D format and then uses the information for direct display on VRML/X3D browsers or feeds into a Shockwave 3D visualization.

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