Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life

Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth, available everywhere by single access on command. The page contains the scientific name of the species, a pictorial or genomic presentation of the primary type specimen on which its name is based, and a summary of its diagnostic traits. The page opens out directly or by linkage with other databases such as ARKive, Ecoport, and GenBank. It comprises a summary of everything known about the species' genome, proteome, geographic distribution, phylogenetic position, habitat, ecological relationships, and, not least, its perceived practical importance for humanity. - E . O. Wilson, 2003

E. O. Wilson's much used quote features prominently on the EoL Informatics web site. This project involves the Smithsonian Institution, Field Museum, Harvard University, Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the MBL. I will be at the Informatics Workshop next month.

For my own toy efforts in this direction, see iSpecies.

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