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
Website eol.org
Alexa rankIncrease Negative.svg 52,786 (September 2018) [1]
CommercialNo
RegistrationOptional
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.

Life Characteristic that distinguishes physical entities having biological processes

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential synthetic life as "living". Biology is the science concerned with the study of life.

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined.

Biodiversity Heritage Library digital library, online database and large-scale digitization project for biodiversity literature

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global "biodiversity commons". The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, the BHL has digitized millions of pages of taxonomic literature, representing tens of thousands of titles and more than 100,000 volumes.

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. [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]

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Spanish, or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 480 million native speakers in Spain and the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

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]

Chinese Academy of Sciences academy of sciences

The Chinese Academy of Sciences, is a Chinese research institute. It has historical origins in the Academia Sinica during the Republican era and formerly also known by that name, is the national academy for the natural sciences of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Collectively known as the "Two Academies (两院)" along with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, it functions as the national scientific think tank and academic governing body, providing advisory and appraisal services on issues stemming from the national economy, social development, and science and technology progress. It is headquartered in Xicheng District, Beijing, with branch institutes all over mainland China. It has also created hundreds of commercial enterprises, Lenovo being one of the most famous.

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 13,100 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, wealth, and academic reputation have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It is cited as the world's top university by many publishers.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egyptian city of Alexandria

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. It is both a commemoration of the Library of Alexandria that was lost in antiquity, and an attempt to rekindle something of the brilliance that this earlier center of study and erudition represented. The idea of reviving the old library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some US$220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world.

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. [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.

Megafauna Large or giant animals

In terrestrial zoology, megafauna are large or giant animals. The most common thresholds used are weight over 40 kilograms (90 lb) or 44 kilograms (100 lb) or over a tonne, 1,000 kilograms (2,205 lb). The first of these include many species not popularly thought of as overly large, such as white-tailed deer and red kangaroo.

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.

Catalogue of Life Online database and index of taxa

The Catalogue of Life is an online database that provides the world's most comprehensive and authoritative index of known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. 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 2019, the Catalogue lists 1,837,565 of the world's 2.2m extant species known to taxonomists on the planet at present time.

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 has content partners around the world who share information through the EOL platform, [13] including Wikipedia and Flickr.

Its interface is translated at translatewiki.net.

See also

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References

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