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Encyclopedia of Life

encyclopedia of life, encyclopedia of life sciences
The Encyclopedia of Life EOL is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 19 million living species known to science It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text In addition, the Encyclopedia incorporates content from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which digitizes millions of pages of printed literature from the world's major natural history libraries The project was initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, who provided US$20 million and US$5 million, respectively The additional US$25 million came from five cornerstone institutions—the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution The project was initially led by Jim Edwards and the development team by David Patterson Today, participating institutions and individual donors continue to support EOL through financial contributions


  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Intention
  • 3 Resources and collaborations
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


EOL went live on 26 February 2008 with 30,000 entries The site immediately proved to be extremely popular, and temporarily had to revert to demonstration pages for two days when it was overrun by traffic from over 11 million views it received

The site relaunched on 5 September 2011 with a redesigned interface and tools The new version – referred to as EOLv2 – was developed in response to requests from the general public, citizen scientists, educators and professional biologists for a site that was more engaging, accessible and personal EOLv2 is redesigned to enhance usability and encourage contributions and interactions among users The product is also internationalized with interfaces provided for English, German, Spanish, French, Galician, Serbian, Macedonian, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Ukrainian language speakers On 16 January 2014, EOL launched TraitBank, a searchable, open digital repository for organism traits, measurements, interactions and other facts for all taxa across the tree of life

The initiative's Executive Committee includes senior officers from the Atlas of Living Australia, the Biodiversity Heritage Library consortium, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CONABIO, Field Museum, Harvard University, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Library of Alexandria, MacArthur Foundation, Marine Biological Laboratory, Missouri Botanical Garden, Sloan Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution


Information about many species is already available from a variety of sources, in particular about the megafauna Gathering currently available data on all 19 million species will take about 10 years As of September 2011, EOL had information on more than 700,000 species available, along with more than 600,000 photos and millions of pages of scanned literature The initiative relies on indexing information compiled by other efforts, including the Sp2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life, Fishbase and the Assembling Tree of Life project of NSF, AmphibiaWeb, Mushroom explorer, microscope, etc The initial focus has been on living species but will later include extinct species As the discovery of new species is expected to continue the current rate is about 20,000 per year, the encyclopedia will grow continuously As taxonomy finds new ways to include species discovered by molecular techniques, the rate of new species additions will increase – in particular in respect of the microbial work of eubacteria, archaebacteria and viruses

The goal of EOL is to serve as a resource for the general public, enthusiastic amateurs, educators, students and professional scientists from around the world

Resources and collaborations

The Encyclopedia of Life has content partners around the world who share information through the EOL platform, including Wikipedia and Flickr

Its interface is translated at translatewikinet

See also

  • All Species Foundation
  • Biodiversity Heritage Library
  • Encyclopedia Galactica
  • List of online encyclopedias
  • Wikispecies


  1. ^ "Eolorg Site Info" Alexa Internet Retrieved 2016-07-13 
  2. ^ a b "EOL History" Eolorg 2012-02-28 Retrieved 2012-03-23 
  3. ^ Odling-Smee, Lucy 2007-05-09 "Encyclopedia of Life launched" Nature doi:101038/news070508-7 Retrieved 2007-05-09 
  4. ^ "James Edwards - Encyclopedia of Life" Eolorg Retrieved 2015-11-21 
  5. ^ Zimmer, Carl 2008-02-26 "The Encyclopedia of Life, No Bookshelf Required" The New York Times Retrieved 2008-02-27 
  6. ^ "Life Encyclopedia Debut Too Popular to Stay "Live"" National Geographic Associated Press February 27, 2008 Retrieved 2009-05-12 
  7. ^ "New Version of Encyclopedia of Life Now Available – Encyclopedia of Life" Eolorg 2011-09-05 Retrieved 2012-03-23 
  8. ^ "TraitBank: Practical semantics for organism attribute data" Semantic-web-journalnet 2014-03-28 Retrieved 2015-11-21 
  9. ^ "Scientists compile 'book of life'" BBC News 2007-05-09 Retrieved 2007-05-09 
  10. ^ "Meet the Team: Executive Committee" EOL 2012-02-28 Retrieved 2012-03-23 
  11. ^ "Encyclopédie de la vie: Une arche de Noé virtuelle!" Radio-Canada 9 May 2007 Retrieved 2009-05-12 
  12. ^ "New Version of the Encyclopedia of Life Now Available" Eolorg 2011-09-05 Retrieved 2012-03-23 
  13. ^ "EOL Content Partners" Eolorg Retrieved 2012-03-23 

External links

  • Official website
  • "A Leap for All Life: World's Leading Scientists Announce Creation of 'Encyclopedia of Life'" Encyclopedia of Life 2007-05-09 
  • The Encyclopedia of Life – Introductory video on YouTube from May 2007
  • Biology portal
  • Evolutionary biology portal

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