The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 1, Number 20

October 18, 2002

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


The Merck Veterinary Manual [RealPlayer, Windows Media]
This Web site contains the online version of the Merck Veterinary Manual, provided on a not-for-profit basis by pharmaceutical manufacturers Merial and Merck and Co., Inc. This "single most comprehensive electronic reference for animal care information" covers over 12,000 veterinary topics. The scrollable table of contents and advanced search tool allow for quick access to the enormous body of information provided in this site. Users may also view detailed reference tables and over 1200 photographs and illustrations. A short video introduction and a helpful User's Guide will help users take advantage of all available features. [RS]
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Journal of Young Investigators
The student-led Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) features peer-reviewed undergraduate research in the sciences, math, and engineering. JYI's Web journal "publishes the best submissions from undergraduates, with an emphasis on both the quality of research and the manner it which it is communicated." Much of the research currently presented is life science oriented. The full complement of articles and submitted papers are available online, accessible by issue or by search tool. Other features of this Web site include a discussion forum for registered users (geared toward students), JYI-related news, and more. Although this site targets an undergraduate audience, the quality of the work invites a closer look from the larger science community. [RS]
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Two from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Genetic Differences Found in African American, European American Lupus Families
New "Marathon Mouse" Shows Increased Muscular Stamina
Each of these Web sites relates new findings from research supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. As described in the first site, researchers have found "different genetic regions linked to lupus in African Americans and European Americans," which may lead to a better understanding of "why more African Americans die of lupus and develop more serious complications such as nephritis (kidney failure) compared with people of European descent." The second site describes how a transgenic mouse that expresses "a particular energy-metabolizing protein has shown significant increases in "slow-twitch" muscle fibers -- the kind that gives distance runners their muscular stamina." Each Web site has a straight news article format. [RS]
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Paleobotanical Collection
The Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta offers this searchable database of its paleobotanical collection, self-described as "the best in Canada and one of the best in the world." The site offers numerous search tools for use with the database, including Basic Search, Advanced Search, and Fast Find (based on each object's collection number), and a help page offers tips on how to use these tools. Although this Web site was developed for use by University of Alberta faculty, students, and researchers, its creators hope that "other individuals interested in the study of Paleobotany will find this resource useful and informative." [RS]
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Gramene: A Comparative Mapping Resource for Grains
Gramene is a "curated, open-source, Web-accessible data resource for comparative genome analysis in the grasses," funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The searchable database, containing data derived from related public projects, may be queried with the rice genome browser, blast search, map search, or phenotype search, to name just a few. Gramene is frequently updated; recent changes include new tracks and updated sequence alignments in the genome browser. A number of downloads are available, including genetic maps, microsatellites, sequence databases, software, and more. This site is intended for researchers investigating cross-species homology relationships in grass species. [RS]
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Order Phasmatodea
Carl Moxey of Northeastern University has created this work-in-progress Web site to provide "a comprehensive archive of information on the systematics and morphology of the insects belonging to the Order Phasmatodea." Carefully designed and easy to navigate, this Web site allows users to browse a collapsible classification tree, locate information by genera or species, view descriptions of phasmatid morphology, and more. Even though only a few translations available so far, some links provided for described genera and species lead to a related German Web site. Moxey encourages users to contribute illustrations and literature citations not already included in the site. [RS]
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Animal Info: Information on Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Mammals
Developed by Paul Massicot, this Web site provides a searchable database of information on rare, threatened, and endangered mammals from around the world. Users have a number of options for locating information, such as searching by species name (common or scientific) or browsing a list of common names grouped by category (e.g., monkeys). Once found, a species' page will contain a general profile (often including links to pictures), status and trends (such as distribution and IUCN category), relevant biological and ecological data, references, and interesting facts. Users may also find the extensive page of links useful. This Web site offers no visual bells and whistles, but should serve as a helpful online resource for mammalogists and those working the conservation arena. [RS]
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PlantsP: Functional Genomics of Plant Phosphorylation
Funded by the plant genome program of the National Science Foundation and developed at the University of California-San Diego, PlantsP offers a searchable database for the study of protein kinases and phosphatases. PlantsP is intended to facilitate a "genome wide approach" to discovering the roles of these enzymes in regulating plant function. A number of database and search options are available. Users must fill out a registration form to use PlantsP; registration information is used only to identify comments and annotation submitted to the database and is not shared with other organizations. [RS]
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The Green Squad: Kids Taking Action for Greener, Healthier Schools
The Green Squad, designed primarily for students in grades 5 through 8, comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council. This Web site "teaches kids about the relationship between their schools and environmental and health issues" in a fun, interactive way. Students follow the Green Squad characters through a virtual school campus, learning how to identify environmental or health threats and begin the steps necessary to ameliorate them. The site provides loads of relevant information compiled in a convenient virtual library, which includes printable fact sheets that students can give to school administrators. Parents and educators can visit the Parent-Teacher Room for additional information and guidance. This Web site is also available in Spanish. [RS]
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Jurassic Park Institute: Dino Lab [Flash, QuickTime, Windows Media]
Created as a "science-based and educationally focused program," the Jurassic Park Institute (JPI) aims to provide "kids, families, educators and scientists with the ultimate resource for dinosaur learning and fun." As would be expected from a project of Universal Studios, the JPI Dino Lab Web site is packed with cool computer animation and other multimedia features. Visitors to this site become virtual dinosaur paleontologists, interpreting discoveries and solving problems along the way. Educators can register for JPI Dino Lab's free Teacher Resources, which includes lesson plans, assessment tools, and teaching strategy tips. This site is best accessed with a high-speed connection. [RS]
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The Visible Human Radiologic Atlas of Sectional Anatomy Plus 3D Dissection Movies [.zip, FireViewer]
Making use of data from the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project, Medical Multimedia Systems offers free downloadable cadaver dissection movies for PalmPilot. The PalmPilot cadaver dissections include head-coronal, head-axial, and thorax-coronal views. The dissections are serial reconstructions of 1 mm cadaver slice images that can be viewed layer by layer. The Visible Human Radiologic Atlas of Sectional Anatomy itself is not available for free. Both offerings are touted as "ideal for medical students, residents, radiologists and all students of anatomy." [RS]
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Howard Hughes Medical Institute 2002 Holiday Lectures on Science [RealPlayer]
The theme of this year's holiday lecture series from the Howard Hughes Medical Center is Scanning Life's Matrix, which offers a detailed look at genes and genomes. Educators interested in using these free Web casts in the classroom must fill out an electronic registration form. There are four scheduled lectures (airing December 5th and 6th, 2002) titled "Reading Genes and Genomes," "Probing Genes and Genomes," "Human Genomics: A New Guide for Medicine," and "Chemical Genomics: New Tools for Medicine." These lectures are primarily intended for "high school students in honors and Advanced Placement biology classes," although "other high school students and undergraduates can certainly benefit from the content of the lectures." Detailed synopses of these lectures are available on the Web site, which should help teachers decide whether the material is appropriate for their students. [RS]
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TryScience Field Trip: Be Sense-sational @ Bristol [Shockwave]
TryScience is an online "gateway to experience the excitement of contemporary science and technology through on and offline interactivity with science and technology centers worldwide." This TryScience Web site contains interactive activities for younger children from Explore-at-Bristol, a new science center in Bristol, England. One of the featured activities focuses on sensory perception, such as how different sensory connections can result in mixed emotions. The Web site offers tips for parents and teachers on how to explore TryScience activities with children to help them get the most out of the experience. Although no formal lesson plans are provided, this highly visual Web site offers kids a fun, unstructured way to explore the world of science. [RS]
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Insecta Inspecta [Windows Media]
Insecta Inspecta is the result of an interdisciplinary program at Thornton Jr. High School under the review of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This Web site offers a fun way to learn about insects and other arthropods, and does a great job of placing these bugs in a larger cultural and historical context. In addition to providing a solid introduction to insects and arthropods, this site includes quirky trivia and entertaining audio and movie clips. For instance, visitors can listen to the sound of the didjeridu, an Australian aboriginal wind instrument made from a termite-hollowed eucalyptus branch. Although no lesson plans are available, this Web site should prove a useful classroom resource for a broad range of grade levels. [RS]
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Treevial Pursuit
Created by the National Arbor Day Foundation, Treevial Pursuit provides a fun way for younger students to test their knowledge of trees. This colorful Web site offers beginning or advanced level games for one or two players, with a chirpy red cardinal for a host. The four categories of quiz questions aren't restricted to science subjects alone; players must know cultural and literary aspects of trees and wood as well. If a question is answered incorrectly, the correct answer and a brief explanation will be displayed. While Treevial Pursuit is not a stand-alone learning activity, it should help to reinforce what students learn about trees in the classroom or from other Web sites. [RS]
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A Butterfly's Life
Teachers in the market for lesson plans about butterflies can find hundreds of pages of Web-based material, but those looking for something simple and straightforward might be interested in this Web site, a joint project of Lotus School, Hult Museum, and the Wildlife Prairie Park in Illinois. Well-organized pages of text and images offer descriptions of butterfly migration, life cycle, habitat, food web, body parts, and gender. The site also provides research questions and steps that "outline a research cycle that can guide students in thoughtful research investigations." [RS]
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Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for October 2002 [Windows Media]
Biologist Tom Volk of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse offers his ghostly fungus of the month in this Web site, just in time for Halloween. Dr. Volk covers just about everything there is to know about Monotropa uniflora (not actually a fungus but a fungus-like member of the blueberry family) and closely related plants. The site includes photos and an audio pronunciation guide. Visitors may also follow links to Dr. Volk's main Web site for a comprehensive guide to fungi in general. [RS]
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Red Gold: The Epic Story of Blood [.pdf, RealPlayer]
This Web site is the online companion to the PBS television series "Red Gold: The Epic Story of Blood," which aired June 2002. This extensive Web site offers a detailed look into the biology of blood and the "scientific developments that contributed to society's understanding and use of blood." Engaging feature articles make up the bulk of this site, with the addition of video clips from the television series, an education section with lesson plans and a discussion guide, a glossary, relevant links, and more. Visually appealing and highly informative, this Web site provides a comprehensive resource for understanding blood and related concepts. No tips on fake Halloween blood, though. [RS]
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Conservation International: Biodiversity Hotspots [.pdf, Flash]
The nonprofit organization Conservation International (CI) aims to "conserve Earth's living natural heritage, our global diversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature." This Web site from CI's Center for Applied Biodiversity Science explains how biodiversity hotspots are designated and offers visitors a look at efforts to protect "these biologically rich areas around the world under significant threat of destruction." The highlight of this site is the interactive map; clicking on a red dot will bring up a detailed description of that particular hotspot, along with downloadable area maps, a glossary, and other resources. Visitors may also use a pull-down menu to quickly jump to one of the site's 25 hotspots. [RS]
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The Algodones Dunes, California
The Center for Biological Diversity blends "conservation biology with litigation, policy advocacy, and an innovative strategic vision" in efforts to protect endangered species and wild places, focusing on the western US. This Web site contains a slide show of images from the Algodones Dunes, California's largest dune system. The fourteen slides show images of the area's natural history and environmental threats, such as effects from off-road vehicles. Each slide is accompanied by a brief description. While not overly informative, this Web site offers visitors a quick overview look at this unique natural area. [RS]
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The Antlion Pit: A Doodlebug Anthology [QuickTime]
This Web site, edited by Mark Swanson, is "a collection of resources related to the fascinating antlion, or doodlebug." In addition to providing general information about antlions, this site contains "videos of antlion feeding behavior and metamorphosis, as well as information on how and where to find antlions." Frequently updated, the site recently added the Doodlebug Oracle, which answers randomly generated questions about antlions. All together, this Web site provides a fun and informative look at an interesting creature that's not very well known to most. [RS]
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Thailand's Amazing Insects [QuickTime]
John Moore, who lives in Chiang Mai, has created this Web site about the insects of Thailand. The bulk of the site contains an extensive photo collection of "butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies, flies, wasps, ants, caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers, mantids, bug and beetles plus spiders and some others." Moore also provides a number of related articles, ranging from conservation issues to edible insects in the Thai diet. Some very cool video clips and audio files are also available, as is a long list of external links. Moore hopes that this site "will be of interest to amateur entomologists, perhaps the odd professional, people with an interest in wildlife in Southeast Asia and Thailand," as well as just those "who enjoy looking at photographs of insects in the wild." [RS]
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The Thylacine Museum: A Natural History of the Thylacinidae
This Web site is offered through C. Campbell's Natural Worlds, a "completely nonprofit, education online series which exists as a means of providing detailed information on a variety of topics within the natural history field." The Thylacine Museum, not surprisingly, is devoted to the now extinct thylacine (also known as the Tasmanian tiger). The site includes "information covering virtually all aspects of this very unique Australian marsupial." Users can browse dozens of pages of detailed articles about these animals. Topics covered include thylacine behavior, fossil record, skull data, and much more. The site also offers photos and movie clips of captive thylacines from the first part of the 20th century. Owing to this Web site's high level of detail and extensive text, the casual visitor may not find this site readily appealing. However, anyone with even a remote interest in thylacines or Australian mammals in general should appreciate this extremely comprehensive resource. [RS]
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The NFL Today: Anatomical Travelogue Video [RealPlayer, Windows Media]
CBS Sportsline's The NFL Today Web site may seem an unlikely source for life science material, but this particular site contains animated movie clips of see-through football players. More specifically, the animations show how the musculoskeletal systems of football players move while running, tackling, breathing, etc. Created by the biology-themed computer animation company Anatomical Travelogue, these short movies can be views with RealPlayer or Windows Media, although RealPlayer seemed to work more consistently. Visitors won't learn much about anatomy by watching these movie clips, but they're fun all the same. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

Natural History of Hawaii
1. Hawaii's Living Treasures [QuickTime]
2. The Silent Invasion
3. USGS National Wildlife Health Center: Hawaii Field Station
4. The Harold L. Lyon Arboretum
5. The Hawaii Natural Area Reserves System
6. N. Robert Wagstaff: Naturalist Painter
7. Haleakala National Park
8. ScienceDaily Magazine: Arizona Biologists Help Restore Mauna Kea Silversword
The first Web site (1) is a ThinkQuest entry designed by students from Kapolei Elementary School. Although it's geared toward kids, it offers a great overview of the natural history of Hawaii that should benefit anyone not already familiar with the islands. The next Web site (2), from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project, outlines the alien species situation in Hawaii and presents a 10-point action plan for combating this problem. The National Wildlife Health Center of the US Geological Survey describes the projects of the Hawaii Field Station in this straightforward Web site (3). Visitors can take a virtual tour of Oahu's Lyon Arboretum and learn about some of Hawaii's unique flora along the way (4). The Hawaii Natural Area Reserves System Web site (5) contains general descriptions and photos of nature reserves on Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and the Big Island. Visitors to the next site (6) can browse a gallery of colorful Hawaiian-themed prints created by naturalist painter N. Robert Wagstaff. Terra Galleria Photography offers another collection of beautiful images, this time of Haleakala National Park. Images from this Web site (7) include photos of the highly endangered silversword plant. The final Web site is an article from ScienceDaily Magazine about some of the efforts to save this rare plant, which serves as a symbol of Hawaii's ecological plight (8). [RS]
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