Scientists use the word “taxon” to describe a group of one or more organisms. They give these groups a rank (such as “species”) and a name (such as “Homo sapiens”). EOL gathers information from its many Content Partners together into individual EOL Taxon Pages. You can refer to these as “EOL Pages” if you don’t feel like explaining what a “taxon” is to people. And in case you were curious, the plural of "taxon" is "taxa".
Each EOL Taxon Page has a scientific name and often a common name for the organism or group of organism it references. You will also see an opportunity to collect it by clicking the "add to a collection" button – give it a try when you find an organism you care about. Learn more in the links below:
EOL Taxon Pages organize information in tabs. You can see these tabs along the top of each EOL Taxon Page:
The Overview Tab – This tab is designed to be a gateway for exploring what EOL has to offer, to give you a quick way to learn about each creature, and to learn where it fits in to the tree of life and the EOL community.
The Detail Tab – Articles and other interesting data gathered by EOL from our Content Partners is assembled here into chapters. You may note multiple chapters on the same topic, and you may also encounter content written using technical language. Feel free to click the “add an article to this page” button to explore opportunities for contributing content.
The Data Tab – EOL organizes all trait data, including numerical values such as body mass, as well as categorical traits such as "nocturnal" or "herbivore", into the Data tab. Data is summarized in rows, each showing the trait and its value for that organism, and the source which provided the data. Try clicking on a data row to see more detail, like the context in which the trait was measured, and detailed source information. If a trait term (eg: "Trophic dependence") is unclear, hover over it with your mouse, and click the ? symbol to see a definition.
The Media Tab – EOL organizes all of the photos, images, videos and sounds of each organism into the Media tab to make it easy for you to explore. Try clicking on the “add to my collection” button to see how easy it is to start your own collection of organisms you care about.
The Maps Tab – Graphic displays of where different organisms can be found around the world are gathered together in the Maps Tab. In addition to displaying maps gathered from our many Content Partners, EOL is pleased to partner with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) to display species occurrence maps derived from their vast repository of data. This information is displayed on an interactive map widget you can explore to learn more about where different living organisms have been found around the world. To learn more about GBIF, visit the GBIF homepage.
The Names Tab – People around the world refer to the same organism by many different names depending on the language they speak. It may surprise you to learn that scientists have different opinions on names as well, and that over the years, the names used to describe living organisms can change. The Names Tab allows you to see all the different related names, common names and synonyms, as well as the different classifications used by scientists to describe how each organism relates to others.
The Community Tab – This tab gathers information on the EOL Curators who work on each EOL Taxon Page, as well as the EOL Collections and EOL Communities that include that specific organism or group of organisms. Explore all three to learn more about the people who care about that specific form of life.
The Resources Tab – In addition to the information gathered together on the Details Tab, EOL obtains a variety of biodiversity resources and tools from its content providers and partner organizations. These are organized in the Resources Tab to make it easy to explore various aspects of biodiversity in greater depth. The Resources Tab also contains a list of links provided to EOL by our Content Partners. These give you a way to explore additional resources for the taxon found on our Content Providers' websites.
The Literature Tab –In addition to presenting references contributed by our content partners, the Literature Tab presents all literature sourced from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a global initiative to scan and digitize literature and make it available online for free. To learn more about BHL, visit the BHL homepage.
The Updates Tab – EOL has always gathered information from its Content Partners, but now it also brings together comments and contributions from people like you. All of the updates associated with the content on an EOL Taxon Page – no matter where they come from – are aggregated in the Updates Tab. You can also learn about the relative “richness” of each page by reviewing Page Statistics.
The Worklist Tab (curators only) – To make it easier for EOL Curators to contribute their expertise to EOL, we’ve created a special tool that reveals all of the items that “need curating” at the level of each EOL Taxon Page. If you’re an EOL Curator, you’ll love how quickly you can focus on the latest contributions to EOL, and how productive you can be in a short period of time. And as always, we thank you for your important work!
Most of the information featured on EOL Taxon Pages comes from trusted sources (see EOL content partners), but EOL is also open to contributions from the public. Any EOL member can add information to an EOL Taxon Page, and we also receive materials from popular content sharing projects like Flickr and Wikipedia. When using taxon information from EOL, you should therefore always be aware of the source of the material. Content that has not been evaluated by a specialist or knowledgeable community is marked throughout the EOL site by an "UNREVIEWED" flag. If you see a "TRUSTED" flag, this means that the article, image, or other object comes from a trusted source (i.e., a project with an established review process) or that it has been reviewed by an EOL curator.
From time to time you will encounter an EOL Taxon Page that has a lot less information on it than you might have hoped or expected. When this happens please leave a comment on the page to let us all know what you were looking for. And if you have access to information you would like to share, please consider taking the next step and making it part of EOL.
Over the last year, the EOL team has begun a focused effort to assemble rich content for organisms of particular public interest. To determine where to focus our work, we track our highest-traffic pages and we consult our community of experts to find out which organisms have an immediate impact on humans. These include commercially valuable species, invasive pests and disease organisms, charismatic and familiar animals, popular ornamental plants, newly discovered species, and plants, animals and fungi on which we rely for food, among other groups. We also watch the news to get a feel for what’s important right now.
We’re actively seeking out new EOL Content Partners who can share this information, as well as experts who can organize, rate, and authenticate new content. The EOL Rubenstein Fellows program and Rapid Response teams are actively recruiting biologists to organize and develop this high-priority content. We are also reaching out to everyone to help us find and assemble multimedia, text and other resources on these high priority organisms.
The RedHotList, our inventory of taxa deemed the most urgently needed, currently numbers about 2,700 organisms, including the 100 worst invasive species on Earth, your most frequent searches on EOL, our most important food species and several other categories.
The HotList, a more comprehensive inventory of high priority species, is approaching 80,000 organisms.
Both the HotList and the RedHotList are works in progress. The content team at EOL wants your input on organisms that should be included, as well as your help in assembling rich information about these plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms.