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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 25, 2012
Contact: Diana Kenney, Marine Biological Laboratory, (508) 289-7139, firstname.lastname@example.org
Software that runs the online biodiversity encyclopedia developed at the MBL
Woods Hole, MA – The Encyclopedia of Life recently surged past one million pages of content with the addition of hundreds of thousands of new images and specimen data from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
Launched in 2007, the Encyclopedia of Life aims to provide global access to knowledge about life on Earth by building a web page for each of the 1.9 million recognized species.
The EOL Biodiversity Informatics group, based at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), developed the software that runs the EOL and also built and maintains, in collaboration with Harvard University, the hardware environment that serves the EOL website. In September 2011, they unveiled a new, improved version of the website, known as EOLv2. In addition to having a more interactive design, EOLv2 supports additional languages and is more flexible by making data available to other web-enabled applications.
“While the technical team at the MBL is very proud of the work done to achieve one million pages, it’s important to realize that there is far more work ahead,” said Nathan Wilson, director of the EOL Biodiversity Informatics group. “We are working on making the data we have more valuable for both the general public and for scientists. This involves improving the content that is currently available as well as expanding the range of data we aggregate and present to our users. We are also working to stay current with, and even facilitate, new species discoveries.”
Reaching the milestone of one million pages of content underscores how far the EOL initiative has come since its inception five years ago. When EOL first launched, it offered only 30,000 species pages from fewer than a dozen content partners. Today, EOL has 13 global partner institutions, more than 200 content providers, 800 curators, and an active global community of contributors who share their time, creativity and knowledge through EOL.
“The Encyclopedia of Life is a consortium of partners who generate and integrate biodiversity information worldwide. To achieve our ambitious goals, we have to continuously increase the number of species pages and the amount of trusted information in each of them,” said Erick
Mata, EOL’s executive director. “Thanks to the hard work of our international collaborators, we hit the one million page mark with plenty of momentum for the next five years.”
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) operates as an ongoing collaboration of individuals and organizations who share the vision to provide global access to knowledge about life on Earth. 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.