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    Encyclopedia of Life
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Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)

The Encyclopedia of Life is an unprecedented effort to gather and share scientific knowledge about all living things in a single online resource, giving each of us a breathtaking view of our amazing world. EOL is a sweeping global effort to gather and share the vast wealth of information on every creature—animals, plants and microorganisms—and make it available as a web-based resource. As EOL matures, the content of EOL grows in both quantity and quality. This content includes descriptions, photos, bibliographic links, distribution maps, and other rare and specialized information that has traditionally been scattered around the world in libraries, museums, herbaria, colleges and universities, databases and other storehouses of expert knowledge.

The Encyclopedia of Life is:

  • An ever-expanding resource for all people to understand Earth’s biodiversity
  • A uniquely comprehensive and freely available source of trusted scientific information
  • A partner in educational and scientific outreach programs
  • A key component of biodiversity research, discovery and education
  • A community of scientists, educators, students, policy workers and the general public coming together to protect Earth’s biodiversity


Content available on this site has been provided by EOL's data partners, who may have placed restrictions on how you can re-use that content.

We encourage the use of hyperlinks on other web sites directing visitors to the EOL home page or any other web page on the EOL site. Such links shall not imply or infer that your organization, its products or services are endorsed by EOL. Permission is not necessary. If you know the page you wish to link to or you can find it via a search mechanism, simply copy the URL from your browser in order to make the hyperlink. Each page has a unique identifier, which is an integer number, and is shown in the URL (e.g. You can also create a "taxon friendly" URL by appending a taxon name to end of base EOL website address (e.g. If we find an exact match for that name, we will take you to the page. If we don't, we'll take you to the search page for that name. Finally, you can also use the NameLink service, which employs automated names finding and lookup mechanisms. However, this not recommended for a dedicated dynamic webpage, since the lookup mechanisms that occur each time your page is loaded may decrease the performance of your website.

Please note that a single page may be made up of many different data elements, each covered by a different license. You are required to check to see which license applies to any portion(s) of the page you wish to re-use and to abide by any restrictions on that content.

The Creative Commons has set up a robust, free, easy-to-use set of protocols by which content owners can easily mark their creative work with the freedoms or restrictions that they want the information to carry.

In most cases, EOL data partners have made content available for re-use under one of the following Creative Commons licenses:

  • CC-BY (Attribution), which allows users to copy, transmit and reuse the information, and to remix or adapt the information, as long as attribution regarding the source of the information is maintained. (see
  • CC-BY-SA (Attribution-ShareAlike), which has the additional constraint on top of CC-BY that if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license. (see
  • CC-BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial), which has the additional constraint on top of CC-BY that you may not use this work for commercial purposes. (see
  • CC-BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) which has the additional constraint on top of CC-BY that if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license and that you may not use this work for commercial puroposes. (see

To identify the terms of re-use of a photograph or drawing, click on the green information button on the bottom left corner of the picture.

Re-use terms for text items are located immediately above the text.

If you wish to re-use any content for purposes other than those allowed by the associated Creative Commons license, you must get permission to do so from the copyright holder (Source).

If there is no re-use information associated with an item (e.g. most of the literature provided by the Biodiversity Heritage Library), then there are no re-use restrictions on this content.


September 13, 2010


restricted resource Resource is restricted to current Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff. Use Off Campus Sign In if not on the campus network.
licensed for Virginia Tech alumni access Resource is licensed for Virginia Tech alumni access. Use Alumni Library Portal Sign In to access.
freely accessible database Freely accessible database, available to anyone without restriction
mobile interface Mobile interface available, see description for link.
Screencast tutorial available Screencast tutorial available, icon linked to list.
Contents in summon Contents of this database are in Summon.
get VText Resource provides Get VText links to access full text.
gold open access - publishing Resource provides open access publishing opportunities and open access publications.
get VText Resource provides self archiving opportunities and open access documents.


NOTE: Most items obtained from this page are subscribed to by the library and accessible only to Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff.
WARNING: The abuse of Virginia Tech licensed online resources by such means as systematic downloading violates the university's acceptable use policy, jeopardizes Tech's future access to resources, and is prohibited.