What is EOL?

Our knowledge of the many life-forms on Earth - of animals, plants, fungi, protists and bacteria - is scattered around the world in books, journals, databases, websites, specimen collections, and in the minds of people everywhere. Imagine what it would mean if this information could be gathered together and made available to everyone – anywhere – at a moment’s notice. This dream is becoming a reality through the Encyclopedia of Life.

Our Vision: Global access to knowledge about life on Earth.

Our Mission: To increase awareness and understanding of living nature through an Encyclopedia of Life that gathers, generates, and shares knowledge in an open, freely accessible and trusted digital resource.

Our Methods: 

  • identifying sources of biodiversity knowledge that are legally and practically shareable
  • enriching their structure using modern data tools in order to integrate them with other knowledge
  • aggregating them into a combined knowledge base
  • providing access to the knowledge at a granular level using faceted search tools and data services in commonly used formats
  • collaborating with data hubs worldwide to support interoperability and sharing

Our Community:

We work with open access biodiversity knowledge providers around the world, including museums and libraries, universities and research centers, individual scientists, graduate students and citizen science communities, and a suite of international open data hubs. Everyone has a job to do. Scientists and other observers generate data, photos, videos and descriptive text. Bioinformaticists and technicians, professional and volunteer, digitize and organize this information. Publishers and data sharing platforms support sharing of the information through explicit licenses and data services. Integrators, like EOL, receive information from many sources, format and annotate it so that search tools can find similar content from different sources. If you've published a biodiversity dataset or a wildlife photo online that is licensed for sharing, you are one of us.

Recent Work- adding structure:

In the last few years, our audiences have expressed an interest in biodiversity trait information, like body size, habitat preference, seasonality, color and so on. This information can feed research efforts as well as learner curiosity. We realized that better structuring this information can also make biodiversity much easier to discover. You will find more and more of this structured data on our taxon page overviews, and in more detail in the data tabs, or you can prowl it using our advanced search. Like all our content, this data is sourced from providers all over the world. Each record comes with detailed provenance information including bibliographic citations and/or web links, so you can trace it to the source. Happy exploring!

EOL is supported by the following institutions:

Atlas of Living Australia
La Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO)
Harvard University
Marine Biological Laboratory
New Library of Alexandria
Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History

EOL collaborates with the following global bioinformatics projects:

Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL)
Barcode of Life (BOLD)
Catalogue of Life (COL)
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)