Encyclopedia of Life

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Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is the proposed name for a freely-accessible, online collaborative bio-encyclopedia, written by experts,[1][2] which aims to build an encyclopedia of separate articles for all known species, including video, sound, images, graphics, and text.[3] It will be initially backed by a $50m funding commitment from five major science institutions, led by the MacArthur Foundation.

The encyclopedia's website holds project information, FAQs,[4] and limited demonstration pages,[5] and is scheduled to offer species information to the public from mid-2008.[6]

The US $100 million 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.[1][7][8]


Information about many species is already available from a variety of sources, in particular about the megafauna. Gathering currently available data will take around 10 years. [9] The initiative will rely on established efforts, including the Sp2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life, Fishbase and the Assembling Tree of Life project of NSF. The initial focus will be on animals and plants, then later fungi and microbes, and finally extinct species. As the discovery of new species is expected to continue at a rapid rate, in particular on the micro scales such as bacteria and viruses, the encyclopedia will grow continuously. To include the 1.8 million known species within 10 years will require the addition of 500 new species to the database every day.

The goal of EOL is to be a tool for children, students, scientists and the public,[10] and it will be multi-lingual.[11]

The estimated cost is $110.5 million.[12]


Biologist E. O. Wilson announced a "dream" that someone would fund the project during a TED speaking engagement in March 2007,[13] 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.[14]

Wikipedia and other existing online works served as an inspiration for the Encyclopedia of Life, although the latter is to be written by experts.[15][16]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Who is ultimately responsible for constructing the Encyclopedia of Life?". FAQ. Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  2. "What does Encyclopedia of Life seek to accomplish? What are its objectives?". FAQ. Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  3. Odling-Smee, Lucy (2007-05-09). "Encyclopedia of Life launched". news @ nature.com. doi:10.1038/news070508-7. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  4. "Frequently asked questions". Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  5. "Demonstration pages". Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  6. "When will this site be ready to use?". FAQ. Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  7. "Scientists compile 'book of life'". BBC. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  8. "Demonstration pages". Encyclopedia of Life. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
  9. http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Science-Sante/2007/05/09/001-encyclopedie-vie.shtml?ref=rss
  10. http://www.eol.org/faqs.html#faq4.1
  11. http://www.eol.org/faqs.html#faq3.5
  12. http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Science-Sante/2007/05/09/001-encyclopedie-vie.shtml?ref=rss
  13. " E.O. Wilson: TED Prize wish: Help build the Encyclopedia of Life"
  14. "E. O. Wilson's Encyclopedia of Life gets over $50M in funding"
  15. http://www.eol.org/faqs.html#faq6.6
  16. "Leading Scientists Announce Creation Of Encyclopedia Of Life". Science Daily. May 9, 2007. Adapted from a Harvard University news release.

External links


ca:Encyclopedia of Life de:Encyclopedia of Life nl:Encyclopedia of Life