The goal of fishtree is to provide an easy interface in R to the Fish Tree of Life API, to download taxonomies, phylogenies, diversification rate information, and other data for ray-finned fishes. It should seamlessly integrate with the rest of the R ecosystem, especially the package ape.


See a list of taxa available to download.

Retrieve a phylogeny for the surgeonfishes and plot the phylogeny and lineage through time plot.

par(mfrow=c(2, 1))
plot(phy, show.tip.label = FALSE)

You can also check out the vignettes for more detailed examples.


You can install the released version of fishtree from CRAN with:


Alternatively, download the development version with devtools:



To cite fishtree in publications use:

Chang, J., Rabosky, D. L., Smith, S. A., & Alfaro, M. E. (2019). An R package and online resource for macroevolutionary studies using the ray‐finned fish tree of life. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1111/2041-210x.13182

The primary data source for fishtree was published as a part of:

Rabosky, D. L., Chang, J., Title, P. O., Cowman, P. F., Sallan, L., Friedman, M., … Alfaro, M. E. (2018). An inverse latitudinal gradient in speciation rate for marine fishes. Nature, 559(7714), 392–395. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0273-1


The fishtree package is licensed under a 2-clause BSD license.


withr::with_envvar(c("NOT_CRAN" = "true"), devtools::release())