The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 3

February 7, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


All Catfish Species Inventory
The All Catfish Species Inventory (ACSI) serves to "facilitate the discovery, description and dissemination of knowledge of all catfish species by a global consortium of taxonomists and systematists." Contributed to by ichthyologists around the world, this Web site provides a useful portal to catfish resources and information. Features include a listing of type specimen locations, a guide to current phylogenetic studies and other projects, distribution maps, catfish news and announcements, and more. Catfish families and the researchers who study them are organized in a table, with links to additional tables that break down by genera. The site also contains an excellent photo gallery, including a page devoted to catfish oddities. [RS]
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The Alwyn H. Gentry Forest Transect Data Set [.xls]
The Missouri Botanic Garden has recently made available forest transect data collected from sites around the world by the late Alwyn H. Gentry. As part of a project developed to "ensure that Gentry's ecological data receive maximum use and are readily available to the biological research community," an electronic version of the entire data set (226 transects total) is accessible through this Web site, free of charge. Users must submit an access request Web form each time they retrieve data files, but this takes only a moment. Users may then (1) browse individual transects (organized alphabetically by taxon), (2) download data for individual transects into Excel, and/or (3) download entire data set as a Text or Excel file. [RS]
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National Marine Mammal Laboratory: Aerial and Land-based Surveys of Stellar Sea Lions [.pdf]
The National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML) conducts research on marine mammals for the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with a particular focus on marine mammals in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. This Web site contains a report on Stellar sea lion survey research -- part of NMML's Alaska Ecosystem Program. The report may be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF file. The site also includes links to other NMML Web pages for more information on Stellar sea lion research, including 1997-98 and 1999-2000 survey data. [RS]
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The Bruns Lab
The homepage of the Bruns Lab at the University of California-Berkeley Department of Plant and Microbial Biology provides an excellent collection of online resources for mycologists. Offering much more than the usual faculty directory and research overview, this well-maintained Web site doubles as a gateway to mycology on the Web. Features include various primer maps, sequence alignment files, abstracts for recent publications from the Bruns Lab, a virtual tour of the lab that includes a terrific collection of fungi photos, useful mycological Web links, and more. [RS]
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Bug Bytes [.pdf, .wav]
Containing a catalog of recorded insect noises, this Web site is presented by Richard Mankin of the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, a division of the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. Organized by species and subject, this unusual library contains approximately 40 audio clips of such subtle insect noises as the wing vibrations of a butterfly and the sound of a termite feeding. Some background noise is unavoidable with recordings such as these, but the Web site includes a sample file for training the ear to distinguish insect noises from extraneous sounds. Bug Bytes is engaging enough to warrant a visit from both researchers and general visitors alike. [RS]
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Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopaedia
The Cytokines Online Pathfinder Encyclopaedia (COPE) is the brainchild of Horst Ibelgaufts of Germany's Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Gene Center. Part super-glossary, part general guide to the "jungles, morasses, and deserts of cytokine-land," this incredibly extensive Web site helps researchers stay on top of newly identified proteins and previously identified but recently reevaluated proteins. As of February 2003, COPE contains over 8,700 entries, which have been mercifully grouped into sub-glossaries by subject: apoptosis, cell lines, chemokines, cytokine topics, hematology, metalloproteinases virokines, viroceptors, and virulence factors. [RS]
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ANSI/ AAMI EC13 Test Waveforms
This Web page contains one of the latest offerings from PhysioNet, a public service of the National Institute of Health's National Center for Research Resources, which provides free access to digitally recorded physiologic signals and related software. In January 2003, PhysioNet made available this standard set of test waveforms (as specified by the American National Standard for cardiac monitors, heart rate meters, and alarms). The files provided may be used to test a number of devices that monitor electrocardiogram, and include both synthetic and real waveforms. Frequently updated to include new databases and other resources, PhysioNet is a must-bookmark Web site for the physiological research community. [RS]
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FISHBOT: Fish Identity Search Heuristic Based On Taxonomy
Maintained by J. Armbruster of Auburn University, FISHBOT is an easy-to-use, interactive fish identification tool designed to improve upon the traditional static identification key. Intended for experts and beginners alike, FISHBOT allows users to enter as few or as many diagnostic characters as desired, retrieving the species (plus photos, range maps, and comparative information) that fit those parameters. Individual species pages provide additional information. Currently, FISHBOT contains data for the Centrarchidae only, and it's not clear whether the Web site will be further expanded. Even if limited in scope, FISHBOT should nonetheless prove an extremely useful tool for ichthyologists or anyone needing to distinguish between centrarchid species. [RS]
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Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology: Experiments [.pdf]
Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) is a collection of peer-reviewed, classroom/ field-tested teaching materials sponsored by the Ecological Society of America. Among these "scientifically sound and pedagogically innovative" teaching materials are a number of particularly well-designed ecology labs for field and classroom. As of February 2003, two of the seven labs on the Web site are complete and ready to download: Ecology of Habitat Contrasts and Environmental Correlates of Leaf Stomata Density. Both are designed for college level courses. Five other labs covering a range of ecology topics will eventually be available, and users may also take advantage of an earlier set of labs from 1993. The resources and materials provided for each lab are incredibly comprehensive. Suffice to say, this Web site is definitely one to bookmark and check frequently for updates. [RS]
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NOVA: Ancient Creatures of the Deep [.pdf]
PBS offers this companion Web site to Ancient Creatures of the Deep, a recent NOVA documentary about the coelacanth, a fascinating living fossil. Numerous educational activities are provided, covering a range of grade levels. Students can discover how coelacanth anatomy is like that of no other animal alive (grades 3-12), learn about eight other living fossil fishes (grades 3-12), or "relive the excitement" of the coelacanth's 1938 discovery by reading letters between the discoverer Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and the expert she consulted (grades 6-12). The Web site also includes a 10-question quiz for 9-12th graders (with detailed explanations of the answers), and a printable activity sheet that has students compare and classify the coelacanth in relation to a moray eel and a bull shark (grades 3-8). [RS]
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zeroBio [.pdf, Flash]
Elliott Kimmel may have created zeroBio for the students of London, Ontario's Central Secondary School, but high school biology students anywhere would benefit tremendously from a visit to this extensive collection of biology learning resources. In addition to functioning as an online biology textbook, zeroBio offers dissection photos for a number of specimens, multimedia presentations, self-quizzing flashcards for organic chemistry, downloadable worksheets, interactive quizzes, games, puzzles, and more. [RS]
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Insect Mouthparts
This Web site contains a pictorial guide to insect mouthparts, a complicated topic served well by this simple yet effective tutorial. Created by University of Ottawa entomology professor Dr. Houseman -- using material adapted from Digital Zoology (on CD from McGraw-Hill) -- this site provides labeled diagrams and high quality photos of chewing, siphoning, piercing, sponging, and combination mouthparts. Users may view images by category or click through the entire set in sequence. The photographs are intirguing enough to invite a look from anyone interested in insects, especially those not opposed to the occasional decapitated grasshopper head. [RS]
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Fast Plants [.pdf]
"To know a plant, grow a plant" is the motto of the Wisconsin Fast Plant Program, a science education outreach program from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fast Plants are members of the mustard family bred specifically for use in the classroom -- small, easy to grow, affordable, and with an incredibly short life cycle of about 35-45 days. While the classroom activities provided in this Web site call for Fast Plants seed (available through Carolina Biological Supply), they offer excellent ideas for plant biology projects with or without these special strains. In addition to these downloadable classroom activities, this Web site contains a detailed virtual tour of a plant life cycle, ideas for science fair projects, and other plant-related learning resources. [RS]
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It's My Life: Depression
It's My Life, a PBS Kids Web-based educational series, offers 9-12 year olds a kid-friendly way to explore and share the issues in their lives. Depression is just one of many subjects addressed in It's My Life. Topics covered in this Web site include defining depression, recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, getting treatment, how to help a friend or parent who may be suffering from depression, and more. In addition to articles on these topics, the Web site provides interactive activities -- such as a quiz and a chat room -- that help kids further their understanding of the disease and reach out for help if needed. Offline activities include a printable journal page, a recommended reading list, and discussion questions that kids can take to a parent or friend. [RS]
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Ocean World: Coral Reefs
Texas A&M University presents Ocean World, a Web-based educational resource for oceanography. The feature on coral reefs has the most direct life sciences application, with easy-to-navigate sections about the coral animal, coral reefs as the rainforests of the sea, symbiosis, ecosystem services, and coral reef threats and conservation. The Web site also includes a handy hypertext glossary, an interactive quiz, and annotated links to interesting Web sites, including sites that provide real-time reef images and data. While no formal lesson plans are provided, this Web site could be easily incorporated to a related classroom module for a range of grade levels. [RS]
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Attack of the Killer Fungus!
The US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service presents a Sci4Kids article about mushroom farms, killer green mold, and a case of mistaken (taxonomic) identity. Written for younger kids, this short, colorful article includes pronunciation help, Web links, and a brief explanation of the difference between mushrooms and molds. While no lesson plans are provided, the story could serve as an interesting introduction or aside for classroom material on fungi, taxonomy, or genetics. [RS]
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Gene Almanac: Neanderthal Reconstruction [Flash]
The Dolan DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory invites visitors to explore their new online feature -- Our Neanderthal Reconstruction: A World First! The Web site introduces Neanderthal bone structure and guides visitors on a virtual tour of the reconstruction process. A series of annotated photos demonstrates how researchers and technicians recreated an adult Neanderthal skeleton, and includes a page listing the provenance of the fossil casts used for each bone. Visitors may also view side-by-side comparison sketches of the human and Neanderthal skeleton, and compare DNA sequences of the two hominids. Anyone interested in physical anthropology should enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at this first-ever Neanderthal reconstruction. [RS]
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Bronx Zoo Congo Gorilla Forest [QuickTime, Shockwave]
In this Web site, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) offers a virtual tour of the impressive, multi-million dollar Congo Gorilla Forest Exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. Through the exhibit and this companion Web site, WCS seeks to "bring the African rainforest to life" and use "the beauty and majesty of gorillas and other animals to teach conservation." The virtual tour covers not just the animals and their recreated rainforest (including photos, facts, and QuickTime video clips), but also all that went into the making of this elaborate exhibit. An online game -- Conservation Quest -- lets players role play as an okapi, mandrill, gorilla, or elephant. While the information provided in this Web site does not go into great detail, the great visuals and charismatic creatures make it well worth a visit. [RS]
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Insect Vectors of Human Pathogens
Malaria, Chagas disease, tularemia, dysentery, and even pinkeye are just some of the diseases transmitted to humans by insects. Dr. John Meyer may have created this Web site for his entomology students at North Carolina State University, but its interesting material and straightforward format make this a great site for the general visitor as well. For each family of insect described, the Web site includes a photo of a representative species, a short description of the diseases they carry, and links to other Web pages (mostly university or government Web sites) for more detailed information. [RS]
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Earth Observatory: Melting Snows of Kilimanjaro
Satellite photos of Mt. Kilimanjaro have become recently available from NASA's Earth Observatory, a "freely-accessible publication on the Internet where the public can obtain new satellite imagery and scientific information about our home planet." Taken in 1993 and again in 2000, these photos chronicle the dramatic disappearance of Kilimanjaro's glacial ice cap, a sensitive indicator of climate change that some scientists believe may vanish altogether by 2015. The Web site provides links to other views of Kilimanjaro, as well as to other new images. [RS]
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DrugDigest is a "noncommercial, evidence-based, consumer health and drug information site dedicated to empowering consumers to make informed choices about drugs and treatment options." This exhaustive Web site offers a variety of resources to help readers manage their health, including easy-to-read reference materials, a potentially life-saving drug interactions database, informative news and features, and eBulletins -- an email service that delivers news and information on selected health conditions, free of charge. [RS]
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Is It Poison Ivy?
With this Web site from Florida Plants Online, you don't need to be a botanist to tell poison ivy apart from its benign look-alike, Virginia creeper. Photos and detailed identification tips, as well as numerous links to additional information, help readers learn how to avoid "one of nature's most dreaded plants." The site also includes information on how to diagnose a poison ivy reaction (including a link to images of contact dermatitis). [RS]
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African Wildlife Foundation
Through research and community-based conservation, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has "played a major role in ensuring the continues existence of some of Africa's most rare and treasure species such as the elephant, the mountain gorilla, rhinoceros, and cheetah." The AWF Web site offers loads of information on the current programs and program locations, including factsheets and photos of African wildlife. Other features include an online library of recent and archived news articles, and a noncommercial safari planner for the informed ecotourist. Altogether, it's an appealing and informative Web site. [RS]
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Contributions to Global Warming Map [.eps, .zip, .psd]
This Web site comes from the World Resources Institute, "an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives." The site contains a map of the relative contribution of carbon dioxide emissions of different geographic areas, and is offered as part of WRI's Global Topics: Climate Change and Energy. The map, which depicts emissions from 1900-99 to reflect the estimated residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere, can be downloaded. The site also includes a table of the top CO2-producing countries and links to the data sources used to create the map. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

The Common Cold
1. Common Cold Basics
2. How Viruses Work
3. Is it the Cold or the Flu?
4. What is the Difference Between Bacteria and Viruses?
5. Rhinoviruses
6. Human Rhinovirus 14 [.jpeg, .mpeg, QuickTime]
7. Purdue Finding May Snuff Out the Sniffles
8. Linking Patients to Medical Research
When winter rolls around and we begin to spend more time indoors, the common cold becomes an unfortunate reality for many of us. But for something as common as the cold, misconceptions about it are remarkably common as well. The following collection of Web sites provides an in-depth look at the cold and the cold virus.

The first site (1) comes from the Common Cold Care Center of Cardiff University in Wales, and offers a thorough and highly readable introduction to the common cold, including sections on conventional and alternative cold medications. Readers can brush up on their basic virology with the next Web site from HowStuffWorks to get a clear, general idea of how the cold virus infects the body (2). This site also explains why antibiotics have no effect on a virus, and includes numerous hypertext links to related HowStuffWorks Web pages. KidsHealth for Parents, a service of the Nemours Foundation, provides a straightforward guide to the symptoms of cold vs. flu, while also offering information on flu treatment options (3). The next Web site, from University of Guelph, contains an easy-to-understand comparison of bacteria and viruses (4). Readers can learn more about rhinoviruses, the family of viruses which account for about one-third of all colds, in the following Web site from the University of South Carolina's Microbiology and Immunology Online (5). The next Web site offers visitors a close-up look at human rhinovirus 14 with over a dozen 3-D images and movies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Bock Laboratory (6). The following site describes the findings, as detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, of a Purdue University research team that has analyzed on an atomic scale the structure of the cellular receptor that binds cold-causing viruses (7). And finally, find out about common cold clinical trials with, a service of the National Institutes of Health (8). [RS]
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