standards > model/format > DOI:10.25504/FAIRsharing.r3vtvx
FAIRsharing is now available for record creation, update, and search at, please visit us there! Replacement of this read-only version of the legacy site with the new version of FAIRsharing is planned for the week commencing 31 January 2022.

ready Ecological Metadata Language

Abbreviation: EML

General Information
The Ecological Metadata Language (EML) metadata standard was originally developed for the earth, environmental and ecological sciences. It is based on prior work done by the Ecological Society of America and associated efforts. It has been developed to document any research data, and as such can be used outside of these original subject areas. EML is implemented as a series of XML document types that can by used in a modular and extensible manner to document ecological data. Each EML module is designed to describe one logical part of the total metadata that should be included with any ecological dataset.

How to cite this record EML; Ecological Metadata Language; DOI:; Last edited: Oct. 25, 2020, 8 p.m.; Last accessed: Jan 25 2022 11:20 a.m.

This record is maintained by NCEAS

Record updated: Oct. 25, 2020, 8 p.m. by The FAIRsharing Team.

Show edit history



Additional Information

TeSS training resources 

Devoted to open data and open source in science and education.


    No tools defined


Access / Retrieve Data

Conditions of Use

Applies to: Data use

Data Release

Data Access


Maximizing the Value of Ecological Data with Structured Metadata: An Introduction to Ecological Metadata Language (EML) and Principles for Metadata Creation

Eric H. Fegraus, Sandy Andelman, Matthew B. Jones, and Mark Schildhauer
ESA Bulletin 2005

View Publication

Related Standards

Reporting Guidelines

No guidelines defined

Models and Formats

Identifier Schemas

No identifier schema standards defined


No metrics standards defined

Related Databases (21)
Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity
The Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) is an international repository intended to facilitate ecological and environmental research. KNB was created to share, discover, access and interpret complex ecological data. Contextual information provided with KNB data allows scientists to integrate and analyze data. The data originate from a highly-distributed set of field stations, laboratories, research sites, and individual researchers. The foundation of the KNB is the detailed metadata provided by researchers, which promotes both automated and manual integration of data into new projects. As part of the KNB effort, data management software is developed in a free and open source manner, so other groups can build upon the tools. The KNB is powered by the Metacat data management system, and is optimized for handling data sets described using the Ecological Metadata Language, but can store any XML-based metadata document.

Environmental Data Initiative Data Repository
The Environmental Data Initiative is an NSF-funded project meant to accelerate curation and archive of environmental data. With mature repository functionality and data curators on staff it supports the large and varied community of environmental researchers. The repository is open to all environmental research data and hosts data that provide a context to evaluate the nature and pace of ecological change, to interpret its effects, and to forecast the range of future biological responses to change. DOIs are assigned making all datasets first class, citable research objects and strict version control allows for immutability while also supporting updates to long-term datasets.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility
GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, is an international open data infrastructure, funded by governments. It is not a data repository. Rather, GBIF indexes thousands of datasets shared freely by hundreds of institutions worldwide making it the biggest biodiversity database on the Internet. makes the data discoverable and citable, assigning each download a DOI and storing it for an extended period of time. More than 1 peer-reviewed research publication citing GBIF as a source of data is published every day, in studies spanning the impacts of climate change, the spread of pests and diseases, priority areas for conservation and food security. To share your data with GBIF follow this quick guide: To deposit/host your data, it is recommended you use one of the trusted IPT data hosting centres (DHC) listed in The DHC will provide you with an account on their IPT, which will allow you to manage your own datasets and publish them through

Ocean Biodiversity Information System
The Ocean Biodiversity (formerly Biogeographic) information System (OBIS) seeks to absorb, integrate, and assess isolated datasets into a larger, more comprehensive pictures of life in our oceans. The system hopes to stimulate research about our oceans to generate new hypotheses concerning evolutionary processes, species distributions, and roles of organisms in marine systems on a global scale. The abstract maps that OBIS generates are maps that contribute to the ‘big picture’ of our oceans: a comprehensive, collaborative, world-wide view of our oceans. OBIS provides a portal or gateway to many datasets containing information on where and when marine species have been recorded. The datasets are integrated so you can search them all seamlessly by species name, higher taxonomic level, geographic area, depth, and time; and then map and find environmental data related to the locations.

Brazilian Flora 2020
In 2010, Brazil published the Catalog of Plants and Fungi of Brazil and launched the first online version of the List of Species of the Brazilian Flora, meeting Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC-CBD). This botanical milestone was only achieved due to the commitment of more than 400 Brazilians and foreign taxonomists who worked on a platform where information about our flora was included and disseminated in real time. The "Brazilian List", as it was popularly known, closed in November 2015 with the publication of five papers and their respective databases dealing with the different groups of fungi and plants. We enthusiastically present in 2016, the brand new system that houses the Brazilian Flora 2020 project, aiming to achieve Target 1 established for 2020 by the GSPC-CBD. This new project icludes provisions to include descriptions, identification keys and illustrations to all species of plants, algae and fungi known in the country. The Brazilian Flora 2020 project is part of the Reflora Programme and is being conducted with the support of the Sistema de Informação sobre a Biodiversidade Brasileira (SiBBr). At the moment has nearly 700 scientists working in a network to prepare the monographs. These researchers are also responsible for nomenclatural information and geographic distribution (coverage in Brazil, endemism and biomes), as well as valuable data regarding life forms, substrate and vegetation types for each species. The search results on this page include information on endangered species (thanks to the cooperation with the Centro Nacional de Conservação da Flora) and allow access to the Index Herbariorum (due to the collaboration of The New York Botanical Garden). Besides this information, users can also access images of herbarium specimens, including nomenclatural types, from both the Reflora Virtual Herbarium and INCT Virtual Herbarium of Flora and Fungi; as well as images of live plants and scientific illustrations with all images included by the experts in each group.

Reflora Virtual Herbarium
The mission of this project was to built a virtual herbarium to display the images of Brazilian plants that are housed in foreign herbaria and was presented by the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq) to the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden (JBRJ) in December 2010. The objective was to provide capacity to store and display high quality data regarding Brazil’s Flora within a public institution. The Reflora Virtual Herbarium is designed to allow taxonomists to perform similar procedures to the ones they are used to do within physical collections. In this site they will access, rather than physical specimens, high quality images that can be consulted, re-determined and typified, amongst other functionalities. In due course, the curators of partner institutes will receive periodic and on-demand system reports and will be able to update data in their own collections. There are currently (2016-10-30) 1922914 images of specimens available in the Reflora Virtual Herbarium. Amongst them, 116925 are nomenclatural types and 525348 are georeferenced records. If you are a trained taxonomist and would like to collaborate in the Reflora Virtual Herbarium, contact us by e-mail at

Atlas of Living Australia IPT - GBIF Australia Repository
The Atlas of Living Australia (GBIF Australia) maintains this data repository in collaboration with the GBIF Secretariat, built using an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). Able to assign DOIs to datasets, it ensures the data is disseminated in standardized format in order to facilitate wider reuse and integration of the data, for example into GBIF Australia supports researchers in Australia by providing them helpdesk assistance and by hosting their data for free in this repository.

GBIF Spain IPT - GBIF Spain Repository
GBIF Spain maintains this data repository, built using an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). Able to assign DOIs to datasets, it ensures the data is disseminated in standardized format in order to facilitate wider reuse and integration of the data, for example into GBIF Spain supports researchers in Spain by providing them helpdesk assistance and by hosting their data for free in this repository. It has already been used to publish/host data in scientific publications, e.g. which is the data this Scientific Data publication is based on:

Canadensys IPT - GBIF Canadensys Repository
Canadensys maintains this data repository, built using an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). Able to assign DOIs to datasets, it ensures the data is disseminated in standardized format in order to facilitate wider reuse and integration of the data, for example into Canadensys supports researchers in Canada by providing them helpdesk assistance and by hosting their data for free in this repository.

SiB Colombia IPT - GBIF Colombia Repository
The Colombian Biodiversity Information System (SiB Colombia) maintains this data repository, built using an installation of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT). Able to assign DOIs to datasets, it ensures the data is disseminated in standardized format in order to facilitate wider reuse and integration of the data, for example into SiB Colombia supports researchers in Colombia by providing them helpdesk assistance and by hosting their data for free in this repository.

DataONE is a community driven project providing access to data across multiple member repositories, supporting enhanced search and discovery of Earth and environmental data.

Norway IPT - GBIF Norway
GBIF Norway is the Norwegian participant node in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, GBIF. They make primary data on biological diversity from the Norwegian collections and observation databases freely available and coordinate and support GBIF-related activities and data use in Norway.

Portugal IPT - GBIF Portugal
GBIF Portugal promotes the free and open sharing of primary biodiversity data and enriches knowledge of Portuguese and World biodiversity. It promotes the integration of Portuguese data publishers and resources of biodiversity information on the GBIF network, and the availability of biodiversity data for the scientific research and societal needs.

Long Term Ecological Research Network Information System Data Portal
The LTER Network Information System Data Portal contains ecological data packages contributed by past and present LTER sites. Data and metadata derived from publicly funded research in the U.S. LTER Network are made available online with as few restrictions as possible, on a non-discriminatory basis. The LTER is able to support high-level analysis and synthesis of complex ecosystem data across the science-policy-management continuum, which in turn helps advance ecosystem research.

National Biodiversity Network Atlas
The NBN Atlas is an online tool that provides a platform to engage, educate and inform people about the natural world. It will help improve biodiversity knowledge, open up research possibilities and change the way environmental management is carried out in the UK.

Dynamic Ecological Information Management System - Site and Dataset Registry
DEIMS-SDR (Dynamic Ecological Information Management System - Site and Dataset Registry) is an information management system for the discovery of long-term environmental research and monitoring facilities around the globe, along with the data gathered at those sites and the people and networks associated with them. DEIMS-SDR includes metadata such as site location, ecosystem, facilities, parameters measured and research themes.

NSF Arctic Data Center
The Arctic Data Center is the primary data and software repository for the Arctic section of NSF Polar Programs. The Center helps the research community to reproducibly preserve and discover all products of NSF-funded research in the Arctic, including data, metadata, software, documents, and provenance that links these together. The repository is open to contributions from NSF Arctic investigators, and data are released under an open license (CC-BY, CC0, depending on the choice of the contributor). All science, engineering, and education research supported by the NSF Arctic research program are included, such as Natural Sciences (Geoscience, Earth Science, Oceanography, Ecology, Atmospheric Science, Biology, etc.) and Social Sciences (Archeology, Anthropology, Social Science, etc.).

South African Environmental Observation Network Data Portal
The SAEON Data Portal provides meta-data-driven search and discovery facilities, and also serves as a repository for data contributed by stakeholders and providers.

French Biodiversity (meta)data repository
Based on Metacat / Metacatui and Geoserver technology, This new born repository will act as a national hub for all biodiversity data produced notably by French researchers. Related to the French national Research infrastructure "Pôle national de données de Biodiversité" (PNDB)

Taiwan Forestry Research Institute Data Catalog
The TFRI focuses its work on conserving forest resources, restoring rare animals and plants, improving silvicultural techniques, managing natural forests and providing nature education among other activities. The TRFI’s data catalog contains research data from the various divisions and projects spanning forests, plants, ecology and herbariums throughout the country.

National Inventory of Natural Heritage
The National Inventory of Natural Heritage (INPN) is a repository for data needed for the development of conservation strategies and the dissemination of information as well as national and international reports relating to the French natural heritage (plant and animal species, natural habitats and geological heritage). It was created to provide a national reference bank for French biodiversity.

Scroll for more...

Implementing Policies

This record is not implemented by any policy.


Record Maintainer

  • This record is maintained by NCEAS



Grant Number(s)

  • DEB99-80154 (National Science Foundation (NSF), USA)