By Caroline Kryder, EOL Collaborator, and Breen Byrnes, EOL Public Information Officer
Where do you go to find information about species? Perhaps you head to the library to check out some books, but more than likely, you go online. The world has transformed the way it finds and consumes scientific information. Just a few years ago, access to knowledge about the world’s 1.9 million species of plants, animals and microorgansisms on one free, trusted website might have seemed impossible, but now the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL; eol.org) is quickly making that dream a reality.
How can one organization possibly catalog life on Earth? By harnessing the collective energy of scientists, students, and people like you! EOL relies on a consortium of over 200 content partners, including the Smithsonian Institution, and more than 50,000 users around the world to compile information on every species. Since its beginnings in 2007, EOL has expanded from 30,000 to more than one million pages.
Technology plays a very important role in getting all the species information to the right place in EOL. Every day, EOL computers gather up information about living creatures that is stored in databases all over the world. These databases belong to our EOL Content Partners, without whom EOL could not exist. These same EOL computers then organize this information by the names of those living creatures. For example, even though EOL gets information about wolves from many sources, it is all organized together in one place to make it easy for you to find (search for “wolf” and see for yourself).
As new content flows into EOL, it is reviewed by experts called “curators” who help maintain EOL’s high-quality information. We also make all of our information freely available for re-use under a Creative Commons license. EOL is a collaborative initiative, and we invite people like you to come to the EOL website to learn about living nature, leave comments, create EOL Collections, participate in EOL Communities, or share your expertise by writing articles, reviewing content, or by becoming an EOL Content Partners.
As EOL grows, we are expanding to become a global community of collaborators serving the general public, enthusiastic amateurs, educators, students and professional scientists from around the world. But we can’t do it alone and we need you to join in this international effort to catalogue biodiversity. We have millions of visitors each year - are you one of them?
Let’s get started! Here are some easy and fun ways to explore EOL and help us build our collective understanding of life on Earth -
- Add images to our Flickr group, or enter one of our regular photo contests (recent themes include Stinky and Seed Dispersal)
- Tell your friends, families and teachers about EOL.org and help us spread the word!