The Encyclopedia of Life is 10 years old!

The Encyclopedia of Life is 10 years old!  It is freely available on the web.  From their statistics, as of May 11, 2017, they have 5.5 million pages.  Responsibilities are shared by interested groups and individuals.  “The founding partners of the project include the Field Museum of Natural HistoryHarvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  The Missouri Botanical Garden later joined, and negotiations are ongoing with the Atlas of Living Australia.  Other partners are the American Museum of Natural History (New York), Natural History Museum (London), New York Botanical Garden, and the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew).”

 From https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Scientists_to_bring_all_species_together_in_Encyclopedia_of_Life

There is also a Wikipedia article about the EOL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia_of_Life

Efforts began with plants, animals and fungi.  It appears now that microorganisms have been added, as they’d hoped.  If one searches for tuberculosis, there are many hits,  but many are not very productive.  Searching on the Genus is the key – Mycobacterium.   The site provides the NCBI ( National Center for Biotechnology Information) taxonomy for these organisms.  There are many  entries on Staphylococcus species.  Not all hits will be productive, and they urge inquirers to request information.

There are tabs for:  Overview, Detail, Data, Media (including some videos), Maps, Names, Communities (which include related EOL groups, e.g. “Birds of America”), Collections (on-line databases), Resources, Literature and Updates.  These headings also serve as filters or limits.

I tried cardinal, but Cardinalis cardinalis — the scientific name, Genus and species — works  best, if you are looking for our most common red bird.

There are data which indicate species to species interactions, from this site:  http://www.globalbioticinteractions.org/  There are many links to many collections.

I looked up cedar and from starting to browse through <6400 entries, I soon (within the first page of 25) came upon Cedrus libani, and found much information, including a video about the restoration of the “Cedars of Lebanon”.   The page steers one to many “traits” including the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) status, which is “vulnerable” for this tree:   Its populations are declining.   Searching can be a bit tricky.  Scientific name works best.

The “about” page includes their Vision and their Mission statements.

“Discover EOL”, http://www.eol.org/discover , has links to podcasts, biodiversity articles, lessons & activities, and tutorials, etc.

Louise F. Deis, Science Librarian, Princeton University

We welcome your comments and suggestions. If you have a resource that you would like to see highlighted please leave us a comment.

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