The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 5

March 7, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Report: Marine Reserves Key to Preserving Ocean Ecosystems [.pdf]
This Web site contains an in-depth report from the Pew Oceans Commission, prepared by Dr. Stephen Palumbi of Stanford University. The report relates findings that well-protected marine reserves are indeed effective in restoring and maintaining coastal marine habitats. The 52-page report details how "intensive loss of coastal habitat, pollution, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and tourism can degrade marine ecosystems, and presents a crucial role for marine reserves in ocean management." The sizeable report file may present an obstacle to those with slower connections, but readers can at least review the abstract on the main Web page before deciding whether to download the entire file. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Cofrin Arboretum Center for Biodiversity: Phenology
Gary Fewless, Herbarium Curator at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Cofrin Arboretum Center for Biodiversity, presents this online set of phenological data tables for the Great Lakes region. With records available for every month beginning February 2000, this Web site will ultimately provide "a long-term data base of regional phenology for scientists, educators, and nature lovers," with particular application to ecological and climate change research. Visitors are encouraged to submit their own careful observations using the provided Web form. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Copepod Web Portal [.pdf]
The Copepod Web Portal, from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of L'Aquila in Italy, provides a comprehensive and nicely designed set of online resources for those interested in this "largest and most diversified group of crustaceans." The site includes a detailed review of copepod systematics; an international directory of copepodologists; a sizeable list of references; and numerous links to related books, journals, papers, and other resources -- including downloadable version of Monoculus: The Copepod Newsletter. A small number of links lead to sites not accessible without special permission. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Field Museum Researchers Help Trace Origin of Madagascar's Mammals
Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH) Web site currently features museum-sponsored research on the phylogeny of Madagascar's living Carnivora. Previously thought to represent two to four separate lineages, the island's carnivores are now known to have descended from a single species. These findings, recently published in the journal Nature, are presented in the FMNH Web site as a 4-page press release that should appeal to general readers as well as interested researchers. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol Problems Science Database
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Alcohol Problems Science Database (ETOH) is "the most comprehensive online bibliographic database containing over 100,000 records on alcohol abuse and alcoholism." This database (updated monthly) contains scientific literature from the late 1960s to the present, as well as a recently added thesaurus of alcohol and other drug terms. The Web site offers four search options and a useful Quick Search Guide for help with each one. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

The Biomolecular Interaction Network Database
"The Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND) is a database designed to store full descriptions of interactions, molecular complexes, and pathways." A joint project of several Canadian research institutions, BIND allows users to quickly find molecular interactions, complexes, and pathways for any given protein. The BIND Web site also contains a useful FAQs page, molecular biology news, links to related databases and Web sites, jobs listings, publications, and many other useful resources for the molecular biologist. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Cancer Statistics, 2003 [.pdf]
This Web site contains a recent report on cancer statistics prepared by the American Cancer Society (ACS) that uses incidence data from the National Cancer Institute and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The report offers "an up-to-date perspective on the occurrence of cancer" in the United States, including cancer frequency, incidence, mortality, and survival statistics for 2003. The Web site provides links to similar articles, the PubMed citation for the report and other bibliographic resources, and a course based on the article from ACS Online Continuing Medical Education for credit toward the Physician's Recognition Award of the American Medical Association (free registration required). [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Long Ashton Research Station -- part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK) -- will close in March 2003, but its online resource Plant-Hormones will continue to provide general information and references on gibberellins, auxins, cytokinins, and other hormone groups. Additionally, this Web site provides a link to a listserver for plant hormone scientists, a discussion forum "intended to promote communication between professionals in the plant hormone field." Plant-Hormones also lists job vacancies, meetings announcements, and Web links for botany and molecular biology resources, while offering an online directory of plant hormone researchers searchable by country. [RS]
[Back to Contents]


Foodweb Kerplunk
This educational game produced by the Yale Center for Computational Ecology offers a highly interactive and engaging way to get a feel for the complex interrelationships of food webs. In Foodweb Kerplunk, the user plays the part of a town council member in suburban California, trying to protect native chaparral wildlife against the pressures of urban sprawl. Although Foodweb Kerplunk is designed for adult students, it could also serve as a valuable addition to advanced ecology-related courses at the high school level. The Web site includes detailed instructions and a brief introduction to the chaparral ecosystem. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Biomes of the World
The Missouri Botanical Garden offers this colorful and appealing Web site about Earth's biomes and aquatic ecosystems. Designed for kids, Biomes of the World offers loads of well-presented information on rainforest, taiga, tundra, desert, temperate deciduous forest, and grassland, as well as freshwater and marine ecosystems. Each biome or ecosystem includes pages of photos and facts covering related topics, such as location, biota, and threats. While no formal lesson plans are provided, this extensive and highly visual Web site offers a fantastic learning resource for younger students. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Daily Lesson Plan: Thirsty for Drought Relief
In this Daily Lesson Plan from the New York Times Learning Network, students explore a variety of drought-related issues and research possible courses of action as part of a "drought preparedness taskforce." Based on New York Times coverage of drought in Arizona (story link provided), this exercise offers an active, interdisciplinary way to learn about water conservation and the ecological and economic effects of drought. Designed for grades 6-8 or 9-12, this exercise can be completed in one class period. The site includes useful Web links and a printer-friendly version of the lesson plan. Free registration is required. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Genetic Research: Decisions to be Made
NewsHour Extra from PBS offers a series of news-related lesson plans designed to make classroom material "more relevant and engaging." This Web site contains a multidisciplinary exercise for grades 9-12 that addresses current genetic research and the ethical implications therein. Written by Sue Rippe of Northwest High School in Wichita, this lesson plan takes three 90-minute periods to complete and includes a number of diverse activities that should appeal to different learning styles. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Science NetLinks: DNA Chips [.pdf]
In this Science NetLinks lesson plan designed for grades 9-12, students explore the issues surrounding DNA microarray technology, a revolutionary technology helping scientists to decipher the primary human genome and, eventually, the genomes of individual people. DNA Chips draws from the National Institutes of Health Snapshots series, which "focuses on a single area of biomedical research to help students understand how science, people, ethics, and history all fit together." All necessary materials are provided -- NIH Health Snapshots documents and handouts in particular. Students are expected to have some familiarity with the material before beginning the lesson. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

AskERIC Lesson Plans: The Beating Heart
This straightforward lesson plan from AskERIC introduces second-graders to cardiovascular anatomy and physiology. With taking pulse rates and observing a beef heart, this 90-minute activity guides students in identifying the location of the heart and pulse points, demonstrating how blood circulates through the body, and identifying the physical components of the circulatory system. The two provided worksheets measure what students understand before and after completing the lesson. The Web site also includes a short vocabulary list and detailed directions for guiding students through the exercises. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

CancerQuest [Flash]
This Emory University Web site offers an extensive set of illustrated tutorials designed to teach the biology of cancer. Developed for cancer patients, friends and families of cancer patients, and health professionals, CancerQuest aims to "inform the curious and empower current cancer patients and survivors of cancer with a better understanding of the disease process and the approaches currently taken in cancer treatment." Topics covered include cell structure and function, the genetics of cancer, tumor biology, cancer treatments, and more. The tutorials offer detailed information, great graphics and 3-D animations, and authoritative references for additional information. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Pollination Parties! [.aiff]
This lesson plan for grades 3-5 and 6-8 explores the phenomenon of pollination and related concepts. The Web site includes straightforward procedures, discussion questions, and additional activities, as well suggested reading and Web links for gathering background information. Activity worksheets are provided, as is a vocabulary list complete with audio clips for help with pronunciation and definitions. [RS]
[Back to Contents]


Dolly the Sheep
Dolly, the world's first animal to be cloned from an adult cell, was put down February 14, 2003, due to a tumor in the lung. Her death has drawn increased attention to how little we really know about the potential health problems associated with genetic cloning. The journal Nature offers a special Web focus on "the life of this extraordinary sheep," including current and archived news articles and scientific papers. These resources offer a great way for readers to delve into this topic at depth and learn about the science behind the news. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

The Virtual Gallery: New Trilobites
The Natural History Museum in London presents images of three trilobites from Morocco recently added to the museum collection. Unlike most fossils -- often flattened by the weight of surrounding sediment during fossilization -- these trilobites have been preserved with their structures intact. Images of these fantastic creatures (the big-eye, mega-spined, and trident trilobites) may be rotated 360 degrees. Viewers also have the option of downloading a 3-D bird's eye view of one of the fossils (a high-speed connection is recommended). The site also provides interesting background information on each fossil. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Migratory Bird Center: Coffee [.pdf]
This Web site from the Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian National Zoo offers a engaging look at how "shade-grown coffee plantations play a key role in the conservation of migratory birds that have found a sanctuary in their forest-like environment." The site contains a variety of interesting features, such as a search engine for finding "Bird Friendly" retail coffee sources, a slide show of neotropical birds that benefit from shade-grown coffee, and a detailed analysis of shade-grown coffee issues. Coffee growers, roasters, and importers will also find useful information resources in this comprehensive Web site. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Natural Resources Defense Council: The Bush Record
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) offers The Bush Record -- "the real story on this administration's dealing on environmental issues, from NRDC's scientists, lawyers, and policy experts." The main Web page highlights the administration's most recent actions. Readers may also access related reports, search The Bush Record by date, and find out how to get involved with the NRDC's efforts if so inclined. Topic-specific sections of this Web site include Air, Energy, and Global Warming; Wildlands and Wildlife; Water and Oceans; Toxic Chemicals and Health; Nuclear Weapons and Waste; and Other Issues. Each of these sections contain an extensive list of related NRDC press releases. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Perfect Illusions: Eating Disorders and the Family
This Web site is the online companion to the PBS documentary of the same name, which aired February 24, 2003, as part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. With this "hidden epidemic" affecting millions of people in the US alone, especially young women, this site provides a valuable resource for those wishing to learn more about three common eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. In addition to presenting detailed information for each disorder -- including symptoms, health consequences, and prevention -- the Web site supplies information for seeking help, and other resources such as personal stories from eating disorder sufferers and survivors. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

JungleWalk [QuickTime, RealPlayer, Windows Media]
JungleWalk is a fantastic directory of animal information on the Internet, offering a well-organized and incredibly extensive collection of external links to animal movie and sound clips and interesting Web pages. Netrikon Designs, a "mom and pop" Web design firm, has created JungleWalk as a kid-friendly site that should "still be useful to educators, parents, and anyone interested in animals." Teachers may sign up to receive free sample questionnaires that help make the most of JungleWalk in the classroom. Visitors are encouraged to suggest references to animal Web sites not already included in the collection, or even to contribute an animal audio or video clip of their own. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Bioterror: The Invisible Enemy
This Web site from complements the first episode in the Discovery Channel's monthly series, Spotlight (aired February 26, 2003), which "examines the forces shaping our world." Features of this site include a historical look at biological weapons (used in some shape or form for millennia); an interview with the Institute for Homeland Security director Randy Larsen; Web links for additional information; and Facts and Fallacies -- an online quiz for those who would like to test their understanding of the scientific and historical roots of bioterrorism. Altogether, this Web site offers a brief but thorough (and not overly alarmist) exploration of a pressing issue. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Seed Catalogues
The Smithsonian Institutions Libraries Web site currently features a unique collection of seed and nursery catalogs dating from 1830 to the present. Online visitors may view a portion of the exhibit, which offers a look at "the history of the seed and agricultural implement business in the United States, as well as provides a history of botany and plant research such as the introduction of plant varieties into the US." Although this site does include much material, gardeners and anyone else with a horticultural bent should enjoy a casual browse through the online exhibit. [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Topic In Depth

Sleep Disorders
1. The Stages of Sleep
2. Sleep Paralysis and Associated Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Experiences
3. Insomnia
4. American Sleep Apnea Association: Information About Sleep Apnea [.pdf]
5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Narcolepsy Information Page
6. Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation
7. Sleepless in Loughborough Sleep Deprivation and Cognitive Function
8. How's Your Sleep?
For something as critical to our well being as good sleep, human beings suffer from an amazing number of sleeping disorders. The following Web sites explore just a few of these disorders, starting with a brief introduction to the normal stages of sleep from the Sleep Disorders Center of Central Texas (1). Next, the University of Waterloo offers a fascinating look at sleep paralysis, which many researchers consider the "likely source of beliefs concerning not only alien abductions, but all manner of beliefs in alternative realities and otherworldly creatures" (2). The third site (3), provided by the National Women's Health Information Center, is an easy-to-read source for information about insomnia. Likewise, the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) offers an in-depth information packet on snoring and sleep apnea, as well as the ASAA newsletter and other resources (4). The next Web site (5 ) comes from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and offers an introduction to the phenomenon of narcolepsy, including treatment, prognosis, and related research. Restless legs syndrome may not be as immediately familiar as some of the other sleep disorders addressed above, but a visit to the homepage of the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation (6) should answer any questions about this "creepy-crawly" sensation in the limbs that occurs during sleep or other inactive periods. Of course, you don't have to have a bona fide sleeping disorder to suffer from sleep deprivation. Visitors to the next Web site from Loughborough University's Sleep Research Centre will find detailed information on how sleep deprivation affects brain function (7). Not surprisingly, the news isn't good. Finally, the Sleep Foundation offers How's Your Sleep, an online quiz designed to help users learn more about what may be affecting their sleep (8). [RS]
[Back to Contents]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Life Sciences.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2002. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

Rachel Sohmer -- Editor
Ted Schroeder -- Managing Editor
Rachael Bower -- Director
Edward Almasy -- Technical Director
Max Grinnell -- Contributor
Joel Brieske -- Contributor
Cavin Leske -- Contributor
Wayne Hayes -- Contributor
Laura Boyle -- Contributor
Yasuhiro Sasahira -- Contributor
Debra Shapiro -- Contributor
David Sleasman -- Internet Cataloger
Colin Holden -- Assistant Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan -- Software Engineer
Pat Coulthard -- Technical Specialist
Noah Diewald -- Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink -- Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.