There are so many amazing things on the Internet today that most people don't even know about. For example, there's an astounding project in the works called the Encyclopedia of Life. For many years, biologists and others have dreamed of creating a one-stop clearinghouse about all species on Earth. In 2007, a small group of them (including the acclaimed biologist Edward O. Wilson), realized the technology finally existed to make this dream a reality. Thus, the extremely ambitious Encyclopedia of Life was born (www.eol.org).
The Encyclopedia of Life, or EOL for short, is similar in nature to Wikipedia, but with the important difference that EOL uses volunteer scientists as curators to confirm that information posted on each page is accurate. Anyone can post information, add a picture or write a comment, which is then vetted (but not changed) by the curators.
The creators of EOL estimate that there are 1.8 million known species on earth, of which only about 1 million have been described to any extent. EOL staffers believe it will take about ten years to create basic web pages for all 1 million species. There are 25 "exemplar" species sections that demonstrate the level of detail the creators hope to achieve for all species on the EOL. These include species as diverse as the Peregrine Falcon, Yellow Fever Mosquito, Madagascar Periwinkle, Cacao, and Imperial Blue Butterfly.
The uses for EOL are many and continually evolving. Teachers and students at many levels are already using it for learning. In fact, the EOL team encourages undergraduate biology students to post information on species pages. Scientists are utilizing the site to share ideas and to collaborate. Artists, journalists and researchers take advantage of EOL as an important reference source for their work. Amateur ("citizen") scientists can download information to help identify species in the field. In addition, the EOL creators hope the site will inspire work on the other 800,000 species not yet described.
Comment by: PT (David Alexander) (Sep-29-2009) Web site
These days, when the life and longevity of various species can no longer be assumed, this effort to show the amazing variety and beauty in each different species has particular value to raise awareness... and to record information for posterity for extinct species. Hopefully more of the former than the latter. Thank you, Gail, for letting me, and other readers, know about this ongoing effort.
Comment by: meemoe (mee mOe) (Sep-28-2009) Web site
I enjoyed your post, very interesting and informative..thanks for sharing...
Gail Koelln is President of GK Grant Writing, a grant writing consulting firm established in 2006. As the former Development Director at Queens Theatre in the Park from 1999 to 2006, Gail has many years of experience researching sources of funding and preparing proposals and reports for foundations, corporations and government agencies. She also worked as the Grants Specialist for Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, where she provided technical assistance regarding fundraising to nonprofit organizations in Queens and processed grant awards from the Borough President for nonprofits. Gail has a Master’s degree in Zoology, a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a passion for evolutionary spirituality and environmental causes. She is currently the Chair of Gotham Green (a business and social networking group for green businesses in New York), a writer for PlanetThoughts.org, a former Chair of the New York City Sierra Club’s Endangered Species Committee and a former docent for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo.