In 2007 the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) team began its work with a vision of providing global access to knowledge about life on Earth. As a project dedicated to serve all the people of Earth, it was sensible for EOL to embrace a governance model that would include the participation of people and organizations around the world that embrace EOL’s vision and share a desire to contribute to its mission.
To develop a model for the global governance of EOL, a group of biodiversity leaders met in Leiden, the Netherlands, in January 2010. The Leiden Group proposed a model of governance which was refined over the year. On January 6, 2011, a new governance model was ratified. Migration towards this new model began immediately with the formation of the initial EOL Executive Committee leadership group. It is expected that the new structure will be fully operational by July 2012.
The Executive Committee operates as EOL’s “board”, focusing on the long-term sustainability and success of the EOL. Members provide governance and decision-making at the policy level. Committee members are senior figures from the cornerstone institutions; regional, national and thematic EOLs; and other major financial or in-kind partners.Graham Higley (Chairman)
Head of Library and Information Services
Natural History Museum
[Biodiversity Heritage Library, Chairman] Jesse H. Ausubel (Observer)
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
New York, NY, USA Director, Program for the Human Environment Rockefeller University New York, NY, USA
Associate Director for Science
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC USA Joanne Daly
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Dickson, Australia Lance Grande (through 7/12/13)
Senior Vice President, Collections and Research
Field Museum of Natural History
Chicago, IL, USA Nancy E. Gwinn
Chair Biodiversity Heritage Library Steering Committee
NMNH, Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC USA James Hanken
Museum of Comparative Zoology
Cambridge, MA, USA Donald Hobern (Chairman, EOL Council)
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
Copenhagen, Denmark Peter Wyse Jackson
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, MO, USA Li-Qiang Ji
Institute of Zoology
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing, China Erick Mata
Encyclopedia of Life
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC, USA Joan Ruderman
President and Director Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, MA, USA José Sarukhán
The National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO)
Mexico City, Mexico Ismail Serageldin
Library of Alexandria
Alexandria, Egypt Jorgen Thomsen (Observer)
Director, Conservation and Sustainable Development
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Chicago, IL, USA
The EOL Council is responsible for ensuring the alignment of goals among the contributors to EOL and among its major Partners. It provides oversight and alignment for the whole EOL project and is responsible for ensuring cohesion among the major groups of EOL stakeholders. Members are engaged at a vision, mission and goals level. The group is composed of senior individuals who represent the diversity of EOL Partners including cornerstone institutions, natural history institutions, biodiversity and bioinformatics leaders, leaders in key geographies and leaders representing key user communities. (Individuals marked with an asterisk are also members of the EOL Executive Committee.)Ward Appeltans
UNESCO-IOC/IODE - Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) Gary Borisy*
Marine Biological Laboratory Jonathan Coddington* NMNH, Smithsonian Institution David Cooper
Convention on Biological Diversity Joanne Daly*
Atlas of Living Australia Richard Edwards
ARKive John Fahey
National Geographic Society Lance Grande*
Field Museum of Natural History Nancy E. Gwinn* Biodiversity Heritage Library James Hanken*
Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology Carlos Hernandez
Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio) Graham Higley*
Biodiversity Heritage Library Donald Hobern*
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Peter Wyse Jackson*
Missouri Botanical Garden Li-Qiang Ji*
Chinese Academy of Sciences Scott Loarie
iNaturalist Erik Moeller Wikimedia Foundation Ian Owens
Natural History Museum, London Cristián Samper
Wildlife Conservation Society José Sarkuhán*
The National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) David Schindel
Consortium for the Barcode of Life/
International Barcode of Life Ismail Serageldin*
Library of Alexandria Simon Stuart
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Jan van Tol
EOL Partners make meaningful contributions to EOL and agree to provide insight into their needs and those of the many communities they serve around the world. EOL Partners are acknowledged contributors to the EOL project, and as such their requirements and opinions are highly valued by the EOL Council, EOL Executive Committee, the EOL Executive Director and the entire EOL community. EOL Partners will contribute content, resources, feedback and requirements to EOL as individuals, organizations and/or as part of the EOL Working Groups. They will identify opportunities to include EOL into the fabric of global biodiversity research, education and discovery.
This group will be formed through the efforts of the Executive Committee and EOL Council.
The EOL Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day operational management, coordination, planning and product management of the EOL and its working groups. The leader of the EOL Secretariat is the EOL Executive Director, who reports to the EOL Executive Committee. Staff include executive and operations managers as well as administrative, financial and marketing personnel.
Working groups are responsible for the day-to-day management and delivery of EOL component efforts. The five groups include the Species Pages Group, the Biodiversity Informatics Group, the Scanning and Digitization Group, the Learning and Education Group, and the Biodiversity Synthesis Group.
The Species Pages Group works with the scientific community and other contributors to bring together the content needed for the species pages and to authenticate it. The information on the species pages is derived from a large number of different data providers around the globe. The group recruits diverse data providers and works with the scientific community to engage experts who act as “curators” to ensure information on the species pages is correct and current. In addition, the group is implementing a robust intellectual property regime that ensures open access to Encyclopedia materials. Finally, the team is working to develop specialized portals for different audiences.
The Biodiversity Informatics Group is creating the software to establish a single portal to reach information on all 1.9 million known species scattered in diverse websites all over the world. The infrastructure is seamlessly aggregating data from thousands of sites into species pages in the Encyclopedia using novel informatics tools to capture, organize, and reshape knowledge about biodiversity. The group collaborates with data providers, and then the information is indexed and recombined for expert and non-expert users alike using aggregation technology to bring together different data elements from remote sites. In early 2009, an initial version of LifeDesk was released. LifeDesk is a system to allow communities to create new content that will flow into the Encyclopedia of Life.
The Scanning and Digitization Group is led by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium of 10 natural history and botanical libraries, who are digitizing the published literature of biodiversity held in their respective collections and making it available as part of an open biodiversity commons. This digitized literature is of value to a wide range of scientists as well as many others. For example, individuals in developing countries and citizen scientists who lack affiliation with major research institutions will now be able to search, read, download, and print literature that was previously unavailable to them. Artists can use the detailed illustrations in many taxonomic works as motifs or design concepts in their work, whether on canvas, paper, or digitally. Educators guiding students in how to do biological research will have a wealth of examples to incorporate into lesson plans and assignments. The BHL Portal, which is linked to the EOL species pages, is available at http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/ .
The overall goals of the Learning and Education Group are to ensure widespread awareness of the EOL and to explore and promote new and exciting uses of this extraordinary resource in diverse settings globally. To achieve this goal, the Learning and Education Group strives to make EOL relevant, usable and interesting to a broad range of international audiences. In addition to EOL being a useful resource about biodiversity for educators, citizen scientists and others, the Learning and Education Group encourages participation by building tools and applications to help organize and serve species observations, media, and data from contributors around the world.