View the Earth Life Consortium (ELC) Forum

The Earth-Life Consortium (ELC) seeks to make all paleobiological data easily discoverable, accessible, and analyzable, with the larger goal of understanding the interactions between the Earth’s biological and geophysical systems across all timescales of the Earth’s history. Initial efforts are focusing on building a common search interface for paleobiological and paleoecological data stored in the Paleobiology Database and NeotomaPaleoecology Database. Other researchers and organizations interested in joining the Earth-Life Consortium are encouraged to contact the PIs listed on this page.

Earth-Life Consortium

Making the world a better place, one datapoint at a time.


The Making the world a better place, one datapoint at a time. represents a funded effort to harmonize the Paleobiology Database and the Neotoma Paleoecological Database in an effort to develop tools to understand the interactions between the Earth's biological and geophysical systems across the Earth's history. Overview This project brings together six paleobiological databases so that they share a single set of Internet-based commands by which researchers and the public can easily access fossil records from all of Earth history. By coordinating with other emerging efforts in geological and biological data sharing, best practices, and protocols, we ensure that data will be freely available to all, enabling new scientific syntheses and discovery, more powerful educational opportunities, and general exploration of the history of life on Earth. This project establishes a Paleobiological Data Consortium, consisting of leaders of cyberinfrastructure resources in the paleobiosciences and allied disciplines, with the goal of sharing best practices and protocols among the geoinformatic and bioinformatic communities.

Benefits to Scientists

  • Improve and expand the interoperability of CI within the paleobiosciences.
  • Promote the sharing and use of paleobiological data within and outside the discipline but especially within closely allied geoscience and bioscience disciplines.
  • Build interoperability between this paleobioscience CI and current and emergent CI in the biosciences, particularly with respect to networks of biodiversity and ecological databases.
  • Establish a 4D framework for life and its physical environments. Project Deliverables All of these deliverables are in process:
  • Establish harmonized Web Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Web services between Neotoma and PBDB, with capability for extension to other related databases.
  • Fully incorporate six other databases into Neotoma, employing a common database structure and a distributed governance approach based on virtual constituent databases.
  • Establish a common data interchange standard between these resources and contemporary biodiversity databases (e.g. BISON/GBIF, iDigBio) by adopting the Darwin Core format and further extending it for use with additional and richer paleobiological data elements.
  • Build open-source analytical toolkits using R, the open-source scientific and statistical programming language, and create a clearinghouse for sharing analytical tools developed by the broader community.
  • Establish a Paleobiology Data Advisory Council (PDAC) composed of scientists and information specialists from both the geosciences and biosciences.


Mark D. Uhen, George Mason University

Jessica Blois, University of California, Merced

Edward Davis, University of Oregon

Simon Goring, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Russell Graham, Penn State

Shanan Peters, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alison Smith, Kent State University

John (Jack) Williams, University of Wisconsin-Madison