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.

EOL currently hosts 5,360,336 Images, 241,530 distribution maps and 7,601,486 taxon attribute records, as well as 10,223,421 scientific and 714,251 vernacular names.

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.

EOL is supported by the following institutions:

Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History
Atlas of Living Australia
Harvard University
Marine Biological Laboratory
New Library of Alexandria

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)