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Wikipedia-style website to record every species on Earth

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environmentSource: Guardian.co.uk: A complete list of all the species on the planet is, for many biologists and conservationists, the natural history equivalent of the Holy Grail. So therecently-launched EoL (it stands for ‘Encyclopedia of Life’), which aims to create not just a list, but an individual web-page, for every single one of the world’s plant and animal species, is bound to cause a buzz.

Make no mistake, this will be a truly Herculean task. There may only be about 5,000 species of mammals, 8,000 species of reptiles, and 10,000 or so species of birds. But once we get to groups like flowering plants (about 250,000 species, and that’s not including hybrids), insects (over 1m species described, with perhaps another 5m new ones waiting to be discovered), let alone micro-organisms such as viruses and bacteria, it’s easy to see why EoL might seem little optimistic.

So how does EoL work? Well, like its forerunner Wikipedia, EoL is a self-perpetuating encyclopedia, written by and refereed by anyone who wants to contribute. In practice, the contributors are likely to be mainly professional scientists or talented amateur naturalists – in some cases the leading experts on a species or group. Others can add text, images and even video clips to each entry, with the ultimate goal of making information about all the world’s organisms freely available.

Accuracy will be ensured (hopefully, at least) by an expert team of curators, who will weed out any inaccuracies and clarify any confusions. Like Wikipedia, there will be no charge for anyone wishing to access the information, so writers must be willing to share their knowledge with anyone else under a ‘creative commons licence‘. Original sources will also be credited where possible. Read More

Written by dnnnewshound

August 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Posted in Animals, Technology

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