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MBL develops infrastructure and portal for Encyclopedia of Life
Date:2/26/2008

The first 30,000 pages of a massive online Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) were unveiled today as scientists assemble for the prestigious Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference in Monterey, California.

Intended as a tool for scientists and policymakers and a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the living world, the EOL is being developed by a unique collaboration between scientists and the general public.

By making it easy to compare and contrast information about life on Earth, the resulting compendium has the potential to provide new insights into many of lifes secrets.

The EOL provides an extraordinary window onto the living world, one that will greatly accelerate and expand the potential for biological and biomedical discovery, says Gary G. Borisy, director and chief executive officer of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., and a member of the EOL Steering Committee and Distinguished Advisory Board. The EOL is the effort of a consortium that includes the MBL, Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum of Chicago, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and Missouri Botanical Garden; with initial funding provided by the MacArthur and Sloan Foundations.

In essence, EOL will be a microscope in reverse, or macroscope, helping users to discern large-scale patterns. By aggregating information on Earths estimated 1.8 million known species, scientists say the EOL could, for example, help map vectors of human disease, reveal mysteries behind longevity, suggest substitute plant pollinators for a swelling list of places where honeybees no longer provide that service, and foster strategies to slow the spread of invasive species.

Most importantly, the EOL will be a foundational resource for helping to conserve the species already known and to identify millions of additional species that havent yet been described or named. At its core is the knowledge about the
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Contact: Diana Kenney
dkenney@mbl.edu
508-289-7139
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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