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Encyclopedia of Life

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Encyclopedia of Life

Main page of the EOL project
URLwww.eol.org
Commercial?no
Type of siteEncyclopedia
Registrationoptional
Available language(s)English and partially localized in French, German, Russian and Ukrainian
Created byMacArthur Foundation
Sloan Foundation
Launched2008-02-26
Alexa rank120,881 [1]
Current statusactive

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.8 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world.[2][3] It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text.[4] In addition, the Encyclopedia will incorporate the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which will contain the digitized print collections from the world's major natural history libraries. The project is initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation.

The 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 it was overrun by traffic from over 11 million views it received.[6]

At this time, the project's steering committee has senior officers from Biodiversity Heritage Library consortium, Field Museum, Harvard University, MacArthur Foundation, Marine Biological Laboratory, Missouri Botanical Garden, Sloan Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution.[2][7][8]

Contents

Intention

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.[9].By October 2009, EOL has 1,500,000 pages of which almost 200,000 have text or images from expert sources. 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, micro*scope, etc.. The initial focus will be 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 (eu)bacteria, archaebacteria and viruses.

The goal of EOL is to be a tool for students, scientists and the public,[10] and will eventually become multi-lingual.[11] The estimated cost is US$110.5 million.[9]

Vision

Biologist E. O. Wilson announced a "dream" that someone would fund the project during a TED speaking engagement in March 2007,[12] a yearly forum in which luminary speakers are given the opportunity to ask for a "dream prize". On 9 May 2007 that dream "came true" when five science foundations announced an initial 50 million dollar grant to get the project started.[13]

Wikipedia and other existing online works served as an inspiration for the Encyclopedia of Life.[14][15] Most of the content organized by the site is available under various Creative Commons licenses.[16]

Resources and collaborations

The encyclopedia has agreements with many sources for information, including Wikipedia and Flickr.

PartnerDescription
AmphibiaWeb [17]AmphibiaWeb is an online system enabling anyone with a Web browser to search and retrieve information relating to amphibian biology and conservation. This site was inspired by the global declines of amphibians, the study of which has been hindered by the lack of multidisplinary studies and a lack of coordination in monitoring, in field studies, and in lab studies. One of its major goals is to encourage a shared vision for the study of global amphibian declines and the conservation of remaining amphibians.
Animal Diversity Web [18]Animal Diversity Web (ADW) is a project of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. It is a large searchable encyclopedia of the natural history of animals. ADW facilitates inquiry-driven learning with a database rich enough that students can discover for themselves basic concepts in ecology and conservation biology. ADW has partnered with the EOL to share its text, much of which has been created by undergraduates across North America. It will also share its multimedia as licensing allows.
AntWeb [19]AntWeb is generally recognized as the most advanced biodiversity information system at species level dedicated to ants. Altogether, its acceptance by the ant research community, the number of participating remote curators that maintain the site, number of pictures, simplicity of web interface, and completeness of species, make AntWeb the premier reference for dissemination of data, information, and knowledge on ants. AntWeb is serving information on tens of thousands of ant species through the EOL.
ARKive [20]ARKive is a Wildscreen initiative – a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to promoting the public understanding of biodiversity and the need for its conservation. ARKive’s mission is to create a lasting, publicly accessible, audio-visual record of life on Earth. ARKive is sharing with EOL its species texts. To access ARKive’s rich repository of films and photographs, follow links in the Specialized Projects area of our pages.
The Atlas of Living Australia [21]ALA - The Atlas of Living Australia is a five-year project funded under the Australian Government's National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). Its mission is to develop a biodiversity data management system which will link Australia’s biological knowledge with its scientific and agricultural reference collections and other custodians of biological information.
BioLib.czBioLib, the Biological Library, is a non-commercial educational project intended to be used both by experts and general public. It produces a gallery, glossary, vernacular names dictionary, database of links and literature, systems of biotopes, discussion forum and several other functions related to biology. EOL partnered with BioLib to present many of its images.
Biolib.deBiolib.de is a collection of historic and modern biology books.
BioPediaBio*pedia is a communal repository of descriptions of organisms. Bio*pedia works in conjunction with the STAR biodiversity web sites, such as micro*scope, and with the Encyclopedia of Life. Text descriptions will be immediately be visible in the STAR sites. If you would like to be able to add to Bio*pedia, please contact us or register. We asccept content on the understanding it can be made available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
Biopix.dkBiopix is a collection of biological photos, primarily from Scandinavia. It is used by a wide range of students, teachers, researchers, photographers, among others. EOL partnered with Biopix to present many of its images.
Catalogue of Life [22]The Catalogue of Life Partnership (CoLP) is an informal partnership dedicated to creating an index of the world’s organisms, called the Catalogue of Life (CoL). The CoL provides different forms of access to an integrated, quality, maintained, comprehensive consensus species checklist and taxonomic hierarchy, presently covering more than one million species, and intended to cover all know species in the near future. They contain substantial contributions of taxonomic expertise from more than fifty organizations around the world, integrated into a single work by the ongoing work of the CoLP partners. EOL currently uses CoLP as its taxonomic backbone.
Consortium for the Barcode of LifeThe Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) is an international initiative devoted to developing DNA barcoding as a global standard for the identification of biological species.
FishBase [23]FishBase is a global information system with all you ever wanted to know about fishes. FishBase is a relational database with information to cater to different professionals such as research scientists, fisheries managers, zoologists and many more. The FishBase Website contains data on practically every fish species known to science. The project was developed at the WorldFish Center in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and many other partners, and with support from the European Commission. FishBase is serving information on more than 30,000 fish species through EOL.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) [24]The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is the world's premiere source for information on biological specimen and observational data, providing on-line access to more than 135 million data records from around the world. GBIF is providing range maps for the EOL species pages. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is the world's premiere source for information on biological specimen and observational data, providing on-line access to more than 135 million data records from around the world. GBIF is providing range maps for the EOL species pages.
IUCNInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN supports scientific research; manages field projects all over the world; and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice. EOL partnered with the IUCN to indicate status of each species according to the Red List of Threatened Species.
Micro*scope [25]micro*scope is a communal web site that provides descriptive information about all kinds of microbes. It combines locally assembled content with links to other expert sites on the internet. Information is assembled in collections provided by various contributors.
Mushroom ObserverThe purpose of this site is to record observations about mushrooms, help people identify mushrooms they aren’t familiar with, and expand the community around the scientific exploration of mushrooms (mycology). Some have asked what counts as a mushroom. This site takes a very broad view. While the emphasis is on the large fleshy fungi, other fungi such as lichens, rust and molds as well as fungus-like organisms such as slime-molds are all welcome. Ultimately, I hope this site will become a valuable resource for both amateur and professional mycologists. I like to think of it as a living field guide for mushrooms or a collaborative mushroom field journal.
Naturalis [26]Naturalis is the Dutch National Natural History Museum. Naturalis aims to use its unique natural history collection to make a real contribution to furthering the knowledge and appreciation of nature across Dutch society. Naturalis collaborates with a number of Dutch knowledge institutions, field data collecting organizations, and nature conservation organizations to gather, model and distribute the best possible collection of information on Dutch biodiversity. Naturalis and partners organize expeditions, develop educational programs, publish journals and books and websites to distribute the information efficiently and effectively. Naturalis is developing a Netherlands regional EOL site, which will serve information in Dutch; the same information will be served on the EOL central portal in English.
PlaziPlazi is a not-for-profit association supporting and promoting the development of persistent and openly accessible digital taxonomic literature. Plazi maintains a digital taxonomic literature repository, enhances submitted taxonomic treatments by creating TaxonX XML versions, participates in the development of new models for publishing taxonomic treatments, and advocates and educate about the vital importance of maintaining free and open access to scientific discourse and data.
Solanaceae SourceThe Solanaceae Source Web site is the product of an ongoing five year project: Planetary Biodiversity Inventory (PBI) Solanum: A worldwide treatment. The aim of the project is to produce a worldwide taxonomic monograph of the species occurring within the plant genus Solanum (the potato and tomato family), organized by a robust phylogenetic framework. The project began in January 2004 and is just one of four inventories funded by the National Science Foundation at that time. The project is made possible through collaborations between Solanaceae specialists worldwide, with principal investigators from four research institutions in England and the United States.
Nearctic Spider DatabaseThe Nearctic Spider Database presents peer-reviewed species pages, aggregates individual and institutional collection records, and maintains deep links to the primary literature on spiders throughout Canada, United States, Greenland, Bermuda, and parts of Mexico. The forum, public commenting on pages, web services, reverse geocoding services, syndicated content, and nomenclatural checks are all well used by the public and by araneid systematists and their students.
Tree of Life Web Project [27]Tree of Life (ToL) project is a collaborative effort of biologists from around the world. On more than 10,000 World Wide Web pages, the project provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their evolutionary history (phylogeny), and characteristics. ToL pages are linked to one another hierarchically, in the form of the evolutionary tree of life. Starting with the root of all Life on Earth and moving out along diverging branches to individual species, the structure of the ToL project thus illustrates the genetic connections between all living things. Once the EOL has established its infrastructure for disseminating species page content through web services, ToL will concentrate on collecting content about supra-specific taxa and phylogenetic relationships between species.
World Register of Marine Species[28]The aim of a World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. While highest priority goes to valid names, other names in use are included so that this register can serve as a guide to interpret taxonomic literature.
ZooKeysZooKeys is a peer-reviewed, open-access, rapidly produced journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in systematic zoology. All papers published in ZooKeys can be freely copied, downloaded, printed and distributed at no charge for the reader. Authors may retain all other rights on their works. Authors are thus encouraged to post the pdf files of published papers on their homepages or elsewhere to expedite distribution. Papers are published both online and in the traditional printed format, in full compliance with the current requirements of ICZN.

See also

References

  1. "Traffic Details: EOL.org". Alexa Internet, Inc. 2008. http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/eol.org. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "FAQ: Who is ultimately responsible for constructing the Encyclopedia of Life?". Encyclopedia of Life. 2009. http://www.eol.org/faq. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  3. "FAQ: What does Encyclopedia of Life seek to accomplish? What are its objectives?". Encyclopedia of Life. 2009. http://www.eol.org/faq. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  4. Odling-Smee, Lucy (2007-05-09). "Encyclopedia of Life launched". news @ nature.com. doi:10.1038/news070508-7. http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070508/full/070508-7.html. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  5. Zimmer, Carl (2008-02-26). "The Encyclopedia of Life, No Bookshelf Required". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/science/26ency.html?em&ex=1204261200&en=264ffed20b39b8f4&ei=5087%0A. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  6. Associated Press (February 27, 2008). "Life Encyclopedia Debut Too Popular to Stay "Live"". National Geographic. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/02/080227-AP-encyclopedi.html. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  7. "Scientists compile 'book of life'". BBC News. 2007-05-09. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6638017.stm. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  8. "Demonstration pages". Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. http://www.eol.org/demonstration.html. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Encyclopédie de la vie: Une arche de Noé virtuelle!". Radio-Canada. 9 May 2007. http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Science-Sante/2007/05/09/001-encyclopedie-vie.shtml?ref=rss. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  10. "FAQ: What does Encyclopedia of Life seek to accomplish? What are its objectives?". Encyclopedia of Life. 2009. http://www.eol.org/faq. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  11. "FAQ: What are you doing to ensure functionality in different languages/cultures?". Encyclopedia of Life. 2009. http://www.eol.org/faq. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  12. "E.O. Wilson: TED Prize wish: Help build the Encyclopedia of Life". Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED). 2007. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/83. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  13. "E. O. Wilson's Encyclopedia of Life gets over $50m in funding". boingboing. 9 May 2007. http://www.boingboing.net/2007/05/09/e_o_wilsons_encyclop.html. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  14. "FAQ: How will the public at large use EOL?". Encyclopedia of Life. 2009. http://www.eol.org/faq. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  15. "Leading Scientists Announce Creation Of Encyclopedia Of Life". Science Daily. 2007-05-09. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509185847.htm.  Adapted from a Harvard University news release.
  16. "Terms of use". Encyclopedia of Life. 2009. http://www.eol.org/content/page/terms_of_use. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  17. Memorandum of Understanding with AmphibiaWeb
  18. Memorandum of Understanding with Animal Diversity Web
  19. Memorandum of Understanding with AntWeb
  20. Memorandum of Understanding with ARKive
  21. Memorandum of Understanding with Atlas of Living Australia
  22. Memorandum of Understanding with Catalogue of Life
  23. Memorandum of Understanding with FishBase
  24. Memorandum of Understanding with Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
  25. Memorandum of Understanding with Micro*scope
  26. Memorandum of Understanding with Naturalis
  27. Memorandum of Understanding with Tree of Life web project
  28. Memorandum of Understanding with World Register of Marine Species

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