Encyclopedia of Life

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia of Life
Type of site
Available in
19 languages
Sloan Foundation
Smithsonian Institution
URLeol.org Edit this at Wikidata
LaunchedFebruary 26, 2008; 16 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

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.[citation needed


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

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


Information about many species is already available from a variety of sources, in particular about the

educators, students and professional scientists from around the world.[2]

Resources and collaborations

The Encyclopedia of Life is an aggregative environment, that collects data from other on-line data sources. It provides full provenance for

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.[clarification needed

EoL was made distinctive by its incorporation of 'taxonomic intelligence',[11][12] a growing array of algorithms that sought to emulate the practices of taxonomists. These tools included names resolution so that data entered into different databases using different names for organisms could be combined. Components of hierarchical classifications systems could be used to drill-down or to expand data searches. Common components of different classification schemes were used to allow users to navigate using multiple classifications and to meander among schemes. This initiative overcame a major problem of many biological data bases,[13] that of having rigid and singular classification structures that were unable to reflect the diversity of views, or evolving concepts of how names of species and other taxa should be interpreted. The names management systems continue to be developed by the Global Names project.

See also


  1. ^ "Encyclopedia of Life". Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  2. ^ a b "EOL History". EOL. Archived from the original on Dec 13, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  3. S2CID 162249088. Archived from the original
    (PDF) on Jun 3, 2022. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  4. ^ "James Edwards – Encyclopedia of Life". LinkedIn. 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.
  11. ^ Patterson. D. J., Remsen, D., Norton, C., Marino, W. 2006. Taxonomic Indexing—extending the role of Taxonomy. Systematic Biology, 55: 367-373.
  12. PMID 20961649
  13. .

External links