Encyclopedia of Life
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Encyclopedia of Life
Encyclopedia of Life
EOL logo.svg
Type of site
Available in
Created byField Museum
Harvard University
MacArthur Foundation
Marine Biological Laboratory
Missouri Botanical Garden
Sloan Foundation
Smithsonian Institution
Alexa rankNegative increase 52,786 (September 2018)[1]
LaunchedFebruary 26, 2008 (2008-02-26)
Current statusActive

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world.[2] It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text.[3] 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[4] and the development team by David Patterson. Today, participating institutions and individual donors continue to support EOL through financial contributions.


EOL went live on 26 February 2008 with 30,000 entries.[5] The site immediately proved to be extremely popular, and temporarily had to revert to demonstration pages for two days when over 11 million views of it were requested.[6]

The site relaunched on 5 September 2011 with a redesigned interface and tools.[7] 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. It 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.[8]

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.[9][10]


Information about many species is already available from a variety of sources, in particular about the megafauna. Gathering currently available data on all 1.9 million species will take about 10 years.[11] 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.[12] 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 (currently at about 20,000 per year), the encyclopedia will continue to grow. As taxonomy finds new ways to include species discovered by molecular techniques, the rate of new additions will increase, particularly in respect to the microbial work of (eu)bacteria, archaebacteria and viruses.

EOLs goal is to serve as a resource for the general public, enthusiastic amateurs, educators, students and professional scientists from around the world.[2]

Resources and collaborations

The Encyclopedia of Life has content partners around the world who share information through the EOL platform,[13] including popflock.com resource and Flickr.

Its interface is translated at translatewiki.net.

See also


  1. ^ "Eol.org Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b "EOL History". Eol.org. 2012-02-28. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Odling-Smee, Lucy (2007-05-09). "Encyclopedia of Life launched". Nature. doi:10.1038/news070508-7. Retrieved .
  4. ^ "James Edwards - Encyclopedia of Life". Eol.org. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Zimmer, Carl (2008-02-26). "The Encyclopedia of Life, No Bookshelf Required". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Life Encyclopedia Debut Too Popular to Stay "Live"". National Geographic. Associated Press. February 27, 2008. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "New Version of Encyclopedia of Life Now Available". Encyclopedia of Life. 2011-09-05. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "TraitBank: Practical semantics for organism attribute data". Semantic-web-journal.net. 2014-03-28. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "Scientists compile 'book of life'". BBC News. 2007-05-09. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Meet the Team: Executive Committee". EOL. 2012-02-28. Retrieved .
  11. ^ "Encyclopédie de la vie: Une arche de Noé virtuelle!". Radio-Canada. 9 May 2007. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "New Version of the Encyclopedia of Life Now Available". Eol.org. 2011-09-05. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "EOL Content Partners". Eol.org. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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