Browse the Encyclopedia of Life

By August 26th, 2013 at 11:27 am | Comment

This project is featured in our Back to School 2013 round-up

Imagine what it would mean if our knowledge about the many life forms on Earth – of animals, plants, fungi, protists, and bacteria – could be gathered together and made available to everyone – anywhere – at a moment’s notice.  Currently, this information is scattered around the world in books, journals, databases, websites, specimen collections, and in the minds of people everywhere, making it hard to manage, organize, and access. Here’s where you, the citizen scientist, can help.

The Encyclopedia of Life is an online, collaborative project where you can learn about any species on Earth, as well as contribute information and submit photos. This global initiative seeks to create an “infinitely expandable” resource for all of our planet’s 1.9 million known species.

The Encyclopedia draws from existing databases, such as AmphibiaWebMushroom Observer, and sponsorship from a number of leading scientific organizations. The scientific community and general public can contribute to this growing body of knowledge. Here’s how you can participate:

Go to and click on “create an account.” This is free and lets you customize your experience on our site. Then visit the “Discover” tab to find various ways to contribute to the project. You can join the EOL Flickr group to contribute photos, and you can add text directly to any taxon page. If you are not a professional biologist, one of EOL’s curators will visit your content to verify its accuracy. You will be personally credited for all your contributions to EOL.

In the classroom, this project could be a robust resource for teachers and students alike. Among other helpful tools, the Encyclopedia of Life enables teachers to create “collections” of articles or photos that are relevant to their curricula. Students can use the Encyclopedia as a reference or supplement for projects and assignments.

Whether you’re in the classroom looking up species or out in the field snapping photos, you can take advantage of the resources that the Encyclopedia of Life has to offer. Take a look around and let the sheer diversity of life on Earth fill you with curiosity and awe.

What is the Encyclopedia of Life? from Encyclopedia of Life on Vimeo.

Photo: Wikipedia

Lily Bui holds dual degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine. She has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. She currently works in public media at WGBH-TV and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Boston, MA. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns. Follow @dangerbui.

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