Encyclopedia of Life

Last updated
Encyclopedia of Life
EOL logo.svg
Type of site
Encyclopedia
Available in
Created by Field Museum
Harvard University
MacArthur Foundation
Marine Biological Laboratory
Missouri Botanical Garden
Sloan Foundation
Smithsonian Institution
URL eol.org
CommercialNo
RegistrationOptional
LaunchedFebruary 26, 2008;13 years ago (2008-02-26)
Current statusActive

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing trusted databases curated by experts and with the assistance non-experts throughout the world. [1] [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.

Contents

Overview

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.

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. 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. [6]

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. [7]

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. [8] 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 (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.

EOL's 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 provides full provenance for information through citations from its trusted databases. Professional researchers publishing academic research should cite directly to the underlying data. [9] Users may not currently edit EOL's entries directly but may register for the site to join specialist expert communities to discuss relevant information, questions, possible corrections, sources, and potential updates, contribute images and sound, or volunteer for technical support services. [10]

Its interface is translated at translatewiki.net.

See also

Related Research Articles

Integrated Taxonomic Information System Authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is an American partnership of federal agencies designed to provide consistent and reliable information on the taxonomy of biological species. ITIS was originally formed in 1996 as an interagency group within the US federal government, involving several US federal agencies, and has now become an international body, with Canadian and Mexican government agencies participating. The database draws from a large community of taxonomic experts. Primary content staff are housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and IT services are provided by a US Geological Survey facility in Denver. The primary focus of ITIS is North American species, but many biological groups exist worldwide and ITIS collaborates with other agencies to increase its global coverage.

National Museum of Natural History Natural history museum in Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It has free admission and is open 364 days a year. In 2016, with 7.1 million visitors, it was the eleventh most visited museum in the world and the most visited natural history museum in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum on the National Mall was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities. The main building has an overall area of 1.5 million square feet (140,000 m2) with 325,000 square feet (30,200 m2) of exhibition and public space and houses over 1,000 employees.

Wikispecies Wiki-based online project for Linnaean taxonomy

Wikispecies is a wiki-based online project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aim is to create a comprehensive free content catalogue of all species; the project is directed at scientists, rather than at the general public. Jimmy Wales stated that editors are not required to fax in their degrees, but that submissions will have to pass muster with a technical audience. Wikispecies is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and CC BY-SA 3.0.

BioBlitz

A BioBlitz, also written without capitals as bioblitz, is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period. There is a public component to many BioBlitzes, with the goal of getting the public interested in biodiversity. To encourage more public participation, these BioBlitzes are often held in urban parks or nature reserves close to cities.

Animal Diversity Web (ADW) is an online database that collects the natural history, classification, species characteristics, conservation biology, and distribution information on thousands of species of animals. The website includes thousands of photographs, hundreds of sound clips, and a virtual museum.

Biodiversity informatics is the application of informatics techniques to biodiversity information, such as taxonomy, biogeography or ecology. Modern computer techniques can yield new ways to view and analyze existing information, as well as predict future situations. Biodiversity informatics is a term that was only coined around 1992 but with rapidly increasing data sets has become useful in numerous studies and applications, such as the construction of taxonomic databases or geographic information systems. Biodiversity informatics contrasts with "bioinformatics", which is often used synonymously with the computerized handling of data in the specialized area of molecular biology.

Census of Marine Life

The Census of Marine Life was a 10-year, US $650 million scientific initiative, involving a global network of researchers in more than 80 nations, engaged to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans. The world's first comprehensive Census of Marine Life — past, present, and future — was released in 2010 in London. Initially supported by funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the project was successful in generating many times that initial investment in additional support and substantially increased the baselines of knowledge in often underexplored ocean realms, as well as engaging over 2,700 different researchers for the first time in a global collaborative community united in a common goal, and has been described as "one of the largest scientific collaborations ever conducted".

The Catalogue of Life is an online database that provides an index of known species of animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms. It was created in 2001 as a partnership between the global Species 2000 and the American Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The Catalogue interface is available in twelve languages and is used by research scientists, citizen scientists, educators, and policy makers. The Catalogue is also used by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Barcode of Life Data System, Encyclopedia of Life, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The Catalogue currently compiles data from 168 peer-reviewed taxonomic databases that are maintained by specialist institutions around the world. As of June 2021, the Catalogue lists 1,997,284 of the world's 2.2m extant species known to taxonomists on the planet at present time.

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to address this challenge by digitizing the natural history literature held in their collections and making it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, publishers, bioinformaticians, and information technology professionals to develop tools and services to facilitate greater access, interoperability, and reuse of content and data. BHL provides a range of services, data exports, and APIs to allow users to download content, harvest source data files, and reuse materials for research purposes. Through taxonomic intelligence tools developed by Global Names Architecture, BHL indexes the taxonomic names throughout the collection, allowing researchers to locate publications about specific taxa. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, BHL's portal provides free access to hundreds of thousands of volumes, comprising over 59 million pages, from the 15th-21st centuries.

Virginia Museum of Natural History

The Virginia Museum of Natural History is the state's natural history museum located in Martinsville, Virginia founded in 1984. The museum has several different award-winning publications, is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, and has more than 22 million items. This includes the first intact stromatolite head ever found in Virginia, which is one of the largest complete 'heads' in the world, at over 5 feet in diameter and weighing over 2 tons.

The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is a taxonomic database that aims to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms.

Smithsonian Libraries system of libraries at the Smithsonian Institution, United States

Smithsonian Libraries (SIL), formerly known as Smithsonian Institution Libraries, is a library system comprising 20 branch libraries serving the various Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers, as well as central support services which include a Book Conservation Laboratory and an Imaging Center. The Libraries serve Smithsonian Institution staff as well as the scholarly community and general public with information and reference support. Its collections number over 1.5 million volumes including 40,000 rare books and 2,000 manuscripts. The Libraries also holds the United States' largest trade literature collection, which includes over 300,000 commercial catalogs dating from the early nineteenth century and representing more than 30,000 companies.

Plazi is a Swiss-based international non-profit association supporting and promoting the development of persistent and openly accessible digital bio-taxonomic literature. Plazi is cofounder of the Biodiversity Literature Repository and is maintaining this digital taxonomic literature repository at Zenodo to provide access to FAIR data converted from taxonomic publications using the TreatmentBank service, enhances submitted taxonomic treatments by creating a version in the XML format Taxpub, and educates about the importance of maintaining open access to scientific discourse and data. It is a contributor to the evolving e-taxonomy in the field of Biodiversity Informatics.

Cristián Samper

Cristián Samper is a Colombian-American tropical biologist specializing in conservation biology and environmental policy. Since 2012, he has served as President and CEO of WCS. He was acting secretary of the Smithsonian from 2007 to 2008, the first Latin American to hold the position. From 2003 to 2012, he was the Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, the world's largest natural history collection. In April 2015, Dr. Samper was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lists of organisms by population Wikipedia list article

This is a collection of lists of organisms by their population. While most of the numbers are estimates, they have been made by the experts in their fields. Species population is a science falling under the purview of population ecology and biogeography. Individuals are counted by census, as carried out for the piping plover; using the transect method, as done for the mountain plover; and beginning in 2012 by satellite, with the emperor penguin being first subject counted in this manner.

Lipotriches notiomorpha is a species of bee in the genus Lipotriches, of the family Halictidae. It is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it was first found from Anuradhapura district.

Francisco E. Baisas was a Philippine entomologist regarded as the "Dean of Philippine Culicidologists" whose "contributions to the knowledge of Philippine mosquitoes is without measure". His passing was described as the end of "an era which saw the elucidation of the malaria vectors of the Philippines and great progress made in the control of a disease which had accounted for as many as 2,000,000 cases annually in those islands."

Project Jupyter Nonprofit organization developing open-source software

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The Arcadia Fund is a UK charity organisation founded by Lisbet Rausing and Professor Peter Baldwin. Established in 2001, the organisation provides grants on a worldwide basis focusing on numerous projects outside the UK. The primary focus of the organisation involves preserving endangered culture, preserving endangered nature and providing open access. Its Mission statement outlines the organisation's philosophical view to: "serve humanity (and) to preserve cultural heritage and ecosystem's". The organisation believes that "once memories, knowledge, skills, variety, and intricacy disappear – once the old complexities are lost – they are hard to replicate or replace" and consequently want to, "build a vibrant, resilient, green future".

References

  1. "Encyclopedia of Life - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History". naturalhistory.si.edu. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  2. 1 2 "EOL History". Eol.org. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  3. Odling-Smee, Lucy (2007). "Encyclopedia of Life launched". Nature. doi:10.1038/news070508-7. S2CID   162249088 . Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  4. "James Edwards - Encyclopedia of Life". Eol.org. 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. "TraitBank: Practical semantics for organism attribute data". Semantic-web-journal.net. 2014-03-28. Retrieved 2015-11-21.
  7. "Scientists compile 'book of life'". BBC News. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  8. "Encyclopédie de la vie: Une arche de Noé virtuelle!". Radio-Canada. 9 May 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  9. "Encyclopedia of Life". eol.org. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  10. "Encyclopedia of Life". eol.org. Retrieved 2021-11-19.