rphylopic challenge

A data visualization challenge that uses rphylopic to add animal silhouettes to ggplot figures.

Max Czapanskiy


January 22, 2024

Data visualization challenge! We’re going to use rphylopic (Gearty and Jones 2023) to find silhouettes of our study species and add them to a ggplot figure.

For this challenge, you’ll need the following packages:

Make sure to install any you don’t have.

The challenge

Load packages and data


Tidy the data

Explore the data, e.g., with view() or glimpse(). Notice how the bird names aren’t in their own column? Use tibble::rownames_to_column() to fix that.

Find silhouettes

Find silhouettes for the chaffinch, robin, and blue tit. Use rphylopic::pick_phylopic(). This is an interactive way to find silhouettes for your study species.

Create figure

  1. Plot chaffinch, robin, and blue tit abundances in Yew habitat. Use a column plot and theme_classic(). For your column fills, use chaffinch = #9D6C56, robin = #AE7834, and blue tit = #263765. Hint: use scale_fill_manual().
  2. Add phylopics on inside top of columns. Make them white so they stand out. Use rphylopic::add_phylopic().
    1. Hint 1: use parameters x, y, ysize, and fill
    2. Hint 2: You can use text for x position and you can calculate y position from the data.
  3. That’s about it! To clean it up, rename the x-axis to “Bird” and remove the legend.


Gearty, William, and Lewis A. Jones. 2023. “Rphylopic: An r Package for Fetching, Transforming, and Visualising PhyloPic Silhouettes.” Methods in Ecology and Evolution 14 (11): 2700–2708. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.14221.