Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Encyclopedia of Life

The goal of this program is to help build a reliable online encyclopedia with a Web page for each of the named 1.8 million species of plants, animals, and fungi. A $2.5 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation along with a $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation initiated the project in 2007. Over 30,000 pages of the Encyclopedia were released early in 2008 and the site has since grown to include more than 200,000 authenticated species-pages.

Content is being generated via the Biodiversity Heritage Library (a consortium of ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions), other Web-based resources, and by professional and citizen scientists. Wikipedia-style, people worldwide are invited to contribute text, video, images, and other information about a species and have it incorporated, upon review, into the authenticated pages. A 2009 three-year grant supports the EOL’s efforts to expand its worldwide institutional base of participants and its movement toward achieving self-sufficiency by 2012 when Foundation support will end.