Classic APIs

The APIs for names, hierarchies, collections, text and media originate in EOL v2 and will be rebuilt with back compatibility in due course. The following services are supported:


This method will either fail (in which case the EOL error page will most likely be returned) or return a message of Success. There are no other possible messages.

Parameters: none


The XML search response implements the OpenSearch response format using Atom 1.0. See http://www.opensearch.org/Specifications/OpenSearch/1.1 for the full OpenSearch specification

Given the vast number of scientific and common names (nearly 20 million in total) it is a difficult task to provide a user with exactly the species they are hoping to find. For example there are several bird species of named Robin (American Robin, Alpine Robin, Smoky Robin), and several fish species named Robin, and a taxonomist named Robin who has named dozens of species. We have included an 'exact' parameter to return only results whose name matches the search term in its entirety, but we cannot guarantee the returned taxa are taxa you intended to find.


|             Name             |   Values    | Default |                                                                        Notes                                                                        |
| q                            | any string  |         | the query string                                                                                                                                    |
| page                         | any integer | 1       | a maximum of 30 results are returned per page. This parameter allows you to fetch more pages of results if there are more than 30 matches           |
| cache_ttl                    | any integer |         | the number of seconds you wish to have the response cached                                                                                          |


This method takes an EOL page identifier and returns the scientific name for that page, and optionally returns information about common names, media (text, images and videos), and references to the hierarchies which recognize the taxon described on the page.

The Darwin Core Taxon elements (dwct:Taxon) under 'additionalInformation' include identifiers for nodes in hierarchies which EOL indexes. They contain a dc:identifier which is the unique ID for the taxon in the provider's database. For example for the Taxon element for a node in the ITIS hierarchy, the dc:identifier will be the ITIS TSN. The dwct:taxonID element contains the EOL identifier to be used in the hierarchy_entries API. There is no singular EOL taxonomic hierarchy, rather EOL indexes many hierarchies and compares them to figure out which nodes are referring to the same taxa. These taxon elements represent these hierarchy nodes, which is why there are potentially several of them for a given EOL page. Refer to the documentation on the hierarchy_entries API for more information.

If the 'details' parameter is not set then only the data object identifier, data type, and, in the case of articles, subject will be returned. The data type will be a value from the Dublin Core resource type vocabulary. The text subject will be one of the EOL accepted subjects.

If multiple media objects are returned, the list will be ordered by object type. Within each type, items are sorted by vetted status ('Trusted' > 'Unreviewed' > 'Untrusted'), and then by data rating. However, within certain data types, specific items are given the highest priority: if one of these items is returned, it will be listed first. For images, exemplar images have highest priority. With text types, the overview text has highest priority.


|      Name       |                                           Values                                            | Default  |                            Notes                                                                                  |
| batch           | true, false                                                                                 | false    | returns either a batch or not                                                                                     | 
| id              | any string                                                                                  |          |                                                                                                                   |
| images_per_page | 0-75                                                                                        |          | limits the number of returned objects                                                                             |
| images_page     | any integer                                                                                 | 1        | images page                                                                                                       |
| videos_per_page | 0-75                                                                                        |          | limits the number of returned objects                                                                             |
| videos_page     | any integer                                                                                 | 1        | videos page                                                                                                       |
| sounds_per_page | 0-75                                                                                        |          | limits the number of returned objects                                                                             |
| sounds_page     | any integer                                                                                 | 1        | sounds page                                                                                                       |
| maps_per_page   | 0-75                                                                                        |          | limits the number of returned objects                                                                             |
| maps_page       | any integer                                                                                 | 1        | maps page                                                                                                         |
| texts_per_page  | 0-75                                                                                        |          | limits the number of returned objects                                                                             |
| texts_page      | any integer                                                                                 | 1        | texts page                                                                                                        |
| subjects        | see notes                                                                                   |          | pipe delimited list of subjects, eg.:'ecology', or 'all' to get text in any subject.                              |
| licenses        | cc-by, cc-by-nc, cc-by-sa, cc-by-nc-sa, pd [public domain], na [not applicable], all        | all      | pipe delimited list of licenses, eg.: cc-by,  or 'all' to get content under any license.                          |
| details         | true, false                                                                                 | false    | include all metadata for data objects                                                                             |
| common_names    | true, false                                                                                 | false    | return all common names for the page's taxon                                                                      |
| synonyms        | true, false                                                                                 | false    | return all synonyms for the page's taxon                                                                          |
| references      | true, false                                                                                 | false    | return all references for the page's taxon                                                                        |
| taxonomy        | true, false                                                                                 | true     | return any taxonomy details from different taxon hierarchy providers, in an array named "taxonConcepts"           |
| vetted          | 0,1,2,3,4                                                                                   | 0        |                                                                                                                   |
| language        | ms, de, en, es, fr, gl, it, nl, nb, oc, pt-BR, sv, tl, mk, sr, uk, ar, zh-Hans, zh-Hant, ko | en       | provides the results in the specified language                                                                    |