New Version of Encyclopedia of Life Now Available

 New Version of the Encyclopedia of Life Now Available

Groundbreaking web initiative provides trusted information on 700,000 species, 35 million pages of scanned literature and over 600,000 photos

Redesigned site now lets users create and share virtual collections


Washington, D.C. – September 5, 2011 – The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) today announced a new version of its free portal at Founded in 2007, EOL seeks to increase awareness and understanding of living nature by gathering, generating and sharing knowledge in an open, freely accessible and trusted digital resource. Over the three years since its public launch, EOL has grown dramatically to now include trusted information on 700,000 species sourced from over 176 content providers. EOL is supported by a community of over 700 curators responsible for reviewing and approving content, and by staff at contributing institutions around the world.

The new version – referred to as EOLv2 – was developed in response to requests from the general public, citizen scientists, educators and professional biologists around the world for a site that was more engaging, accessible and personal. EOLv2 has been completely redesigned to enhance usability and encourage contributions and interactions among users. The product is also fully internationalized with interfaces provided at the time of its launch for English, Arabic, and Spanish language speakers.

 “EOLv2 will effect an extraordinary expansion of the Encyclopedia of Life, opening its vast and growing storehouse of knowledge to a much larger range of users, including medicine, biotechnology, ecology, and now increasingly the general public,” remarked Harvard biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson, one of the driving forces behind the formation of the EOL.

EOLv2 introduces the ability for its users to gather and share information from its vast holdings as “virtual collections” directly on the EOL site. These collections offer a way to put life into meaningful contexts from scholarly ones such as "Invasive Insects of North America" or "Endangered Birds of Ecuador" to personal collections such as "A Checklist of Trees in My Backyard."  The possibilities for this capability are limited only by the imagination and energy of the global EOL community.

 “The EOLv2 virtual collections feature is groundbreaking,” said Dr. Erick Mata, EOL Executive Director. “It gives our audiences a new way to learn by collaborative construction of knowledge. With this new capability we will be able to bring together citizens, students, educators, conservationists and researchers from around the world to explore the dynamic complexities of the biodiversity these communities care about in real time. This collaborative approach brings a human focus to science and begins to harness the vast creative potential of EOL’s users.”

EOL is available both as a website and as an embedded resource to third party mobile and desktop applications via the EOL API. All EOL information, including access to nearly 35 million pages of scanned literature created by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, is available for reuse and is licensed under Creative Commons and other Open Access free licenses.

“The new site is a delight to use. My students will love the look and feel.  The EOL virtual collections, in particular, will be an invaluable resource in the classroom as we explore the connections among and between species and ecosystems,” said Jeff Danielian, a middle school teacher of natural science in Providence, RI. “EOL is the first place I send my students, and encourage them to revisit as often as possible. There is truly nothing like it.”

Please visit today to learn about living nature and become a contributing member of the growing EOL global community.                                                                           

EOL is supported by founding sponsors the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Additional support comes from EOL member institutions and donations from around the world.

The Encyclopedia of Life operates as an ongoing collaboration of individuals and organizations who share the vision to provide global access to knowledge about life on Earth. Member institutions include the Atlas of Living Australia, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, la Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO), the Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, el Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, NCB Naturalis -  the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity, the New Library of Alexandria, the Smithsonian Institution and the South African National Biodiversity Institution (SANBI). Please visit for more information.