The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 10

May 16, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Explore Cornell: Beetle Science [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime]
You don't have to be a coleopterist to enjoy this eye-catching Web site from Cornell University's Department of Entomology. Beetle Science is an excellent showcase for this amazingly diverse and abundant order of insects and related Cornell projects. The Web site offers a number of fun multimedia features, such as a collection of beautiful carbon dust illustrations and rotatable images of beetle specimens from the university's Insect Collection. Visitors may also view an interactive timeline of efforts to control the invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle, or take a virtual tour of two beetle research labs. These and other well-designed features make this a great site for the beetle novice as well as the seasoned expert. [RS]
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University of Bristol: Bat Ecology and Acoustics Lab [wav]
This Web site contains audio clips of bat echolocation calls from the Bat Ecology and Acoustics Lab at the University of Bristol. The calls, representing 15 species of bats found in Britain, are time-expanded recordings detectable to the human ear. To hear the entire repertoire of calls for each species, users must download the files and open them with a sound analysis program such as Gram (program link provided). Otherwise, a selection of calls for each species may be heard using any program that recognizes WAV files. The site also provides a text file describing in detail how the echolocation calls were recorded. Anyone is welcome to download the calls for noncommercial purposes; bat biologists and non-experts alike should find this Web site interesting. [RS]
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Life scientists interested in commercializing their research can look to Bioentrepreneur -- a comprehensive Web portal from Nature Publishing Group -- for "authoritative, independent advice provided by experts and industry insiders." Bioentrepreneur offers current business development news, a resource toolkit, profiles of life sciences companies, and much more. Users must create a free personal account with Bioentrepreneur to access all features of the Web site. [RS]
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The Mayflies of North America
Housed in the Department of Entomology at Purdue University, Mayfly Central is dedicated "to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge about mayflies, or the insect order Ephemeroptera." The Mayflies of North America, a major project of Mayfly Central, contains a comprehensive species and species distribution list (674 entries as of May 2003). Mayfly Central regularly reviews the literature to keep this list as current as possible. [RS]
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Biotechnology in Developing Countries [SVGViewer]
This Web site contains a database from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations created to "gather, store, organize, and disseminate updated baseline information on the state-of-the-art of crop biotechnology products and techniques" in use or planned for use in developing countries. The database (FAO-BioDeC) is a work in progress, currently containing about 2000 entries from 70 nations. In addition to a general search engine, FAO-BioDeC offers a map-based geographical search that recalls all instances of GMOs and other biotechnologies for a selected region. Downloadable reports are also provided. [RS]
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University of Colorado Museum: Botany Section [pdf]
This site contains a number of Web-accessible botanical resources from Herbarium COLO, the Botany Section of the University of Colorado Museum. Focused exclusively on the flora of Colorado, the site includes species lists of vascular plants (organized by county), an electronic version of the Catalog of the Colorado Flora (including the most recent addenda), a downloadable table of Colorado vascular plants, and a list of Colorado-type specimens housed in the Herbarium. A specimen database of Colorado vascular plants is currently under construction. These materials are available free of charge to any interested user. [RS]
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Human Mitochondrial Protein Database
The Human Mitochondrial Protein Database (HMPDb) conveniently consolidates information from a number of other databases, including GenBank, Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, and the Human Mitochondrial Genome Database. HMPDb "is intended as a tool not only to aid in studying the mitochondrion but in studying the associated diseases" as well. Features include a general database search, a graphical tool for visualizing the mitochondrial DNA sequences, and 3D structures for mitochondrial proteins. Users are welcome to contact the National Institute of Standards and Technology with corrections or other information relating to the database. [RS]
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Reef Check [pdf]
Reef Check, headquartered at the Institute of the Environment at the University of California Los Angeles, is a "volunteer, community-based monitoring protocol designed to measure the health of coral reefs on a global scale." With scientific reef surveys conducted in over 60 countries and territories, Reef Check has been able to track global trends in reef health to better inform possible conservation strategies. Visitors to the Reef Check Web site can read result summaries for the 1997-2001 monitoring period, and check out the organization's current and archived newsletters. Other resources include information on survey methods, Reef Check publications, a species identification guide, and other resources geared mainly toward Reef Check volunteers. [RS]
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Geography Action! Habitats: Home Sweet Home [Macromedia Flash Player, RealOne Player, Macromedia Shockwave Player]
National Geographic's Geography Action! is an "annual conservation and awareness program designed to educate and excite people about our natural, cultural, and historic treasures." This year the theme is Habitats: Home Sweet Home. Just as there are an amazing variety of habitats on the planet, so does this Web site have an amazing variety of features. In addition to habitat-specific lesson plans (ranging from grades K-12), visitors will find fantastic collections of National Geographic photos; interesting Web links; and several interactive multimedia adventures, such as piloting a mini-sub through a virtual kelp forest or taking an animated trek through the Arctic. The site also provides numerous ideas for exploring and protecting your own habitat. [RS]
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Science Matters [QuickTime, RealOne Player]
This Web site -- the online companion to the educational television series Science Matters produced by the University of California at San Diego -- is an excellent learning resource for middle and high school students. Focusing on new developments in the biological sciences, Science Matters currently features four programs: Biodiversity in California, Genetics of Flowering, Communication in Bees, and The Code of Life. Each episode comes with an online overview, an extensive essay on why the research is important, and a series of questions designed to help students explore the topic. A detailed answer will appear if you roll the cursor over each question. The Web site and each episode are also available in Spanish. [RS]
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Bacteria: More Than Pathogens [pdf]
This ActionBioscience lesson plan has students explore the many roles of bacteria, harmful and beneficial. A detailed article written for ActionBioscience by a microbiologist provides background information, which is followed by discussion questions and educational activities designed for middle school to undergraduate biology courses. The Web site also provides carefully selected links for further exploring the topic, including useful sites for student research projects. [RS]
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PBS: Journey to Planet Earth [RealOne Player]
PBS offers this companion Web site to Journey to Planet Earth, a recently broadcast documentary series that explores "the fragile relationship between people and the world they inhabit." In addition to the video clips and other online features provided for each episode, the Web site contains quality educational material geared primarily toward middle school students. For example, Environmental Lesson Plans (based on a Johns Hopkins University graduate course) helps students explore the causes, effects, and health implications of global environmental change. Look for additional Environmental Lesson Plans in summer 2003. [RS]
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Eat Smart. Play Hard. [pdf]
The Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture offers online educational material as part of "Eat Smart. Play Hard." -- a public information campaign designed to promote healthy living in American children. While the site and its materials are geared for use by state and local program coordinators, anyone is welcome to download the available information and activity sheets. Click on Cool Stuff for Kids for nutrition-related puzzles and games. Parents Place offers informational brochures and an educational bookmark. [RS]
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Science NetLinks: Eavesdropping Plants
Science NetLinks offers online learning resources for the educational radio program Science Update. This Web site contains an audio file and a transcript of a recent Science Update program called Eavesdropping Plants. The program describes research on how plants communicate with one another chemically. Discussion questions follow, helping K-12 students explore the material and think about the experimental process. Links to the homepage of the University of California Botanical Garden and an article from the Ontario Science Centre offer good sources for further research. [RS]
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National Human Genome Research Center: Genetic Education Modules for Teachers [pdf]
The Web site for the National Human Genome Research Center offers a number of K-12 educational resources, including the six genetic education modules for teachers presented here. The modules include "specific teaching plans to present the history, facts, and genetic terminology behind the Human Genome Project, and the ethical, legal, and social questions surrounding the discoveries and advancements of this research." Similarly, the site also offers a Mentor's Manual, a communication guide for geneticists and other scientists for help in presenting their work to students in the classroom. [RS]
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Animals A-Z [wav]
Animals A-Z contains a collection of fact sheets from the Oakland Zoo. From alligator to zebra, visitors will find information and multimedia features for dozens of current and former Oakland Zoo residents. The Web page for each animal describes basic natural history (bibliography provided) and interesting factoids. Some Web pages also contain audio clips of animal sounds and links to flipbook-style "movies." While no actual lesson plans are provided, the site should serve as a useful online zoology resource that younger students should find helpful for reports or just for a fun visit. [RS]
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Court TV: Forensic Files [Macromedia Flash Player, RealOne Player]
This companion Web site to the Court TV series Forensic Files offers a virtual forensics lab where visitors can learn more about the different techniques experts use to "put together the pieces of the crime puzzle." Each room of the virtual 3-story lab is dedicated to a different forensic technique, including DNA evidence, bite marks, blood splatter, time of death, and more. Each room offers an explanatory video presentation, as well as an annotated slide show or video of forensics scientists at work. [RS]
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Traits of Life [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime]
Traits of Life, a new collection of exhibits and demonstrations at San Francisco's Exploratorium, offers a fascinating look at the "fundamental elements common to all living things." Culminating from 3 years of research and development, the Traits of Life collection follows four themes: cells and DNA; reproduction; evolution; and energy consumption. This companion Web site offers cool interactive features for each theme, as well as articles, movies, interviews with experts, and more. Overall, this well-designed site offers a engaging way to "see past the diversity of living things to the underlying unity connecting us all." [RS]
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Visual Cognition Labs [QuickTime]
This Web page from the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois Psychology Department offers a collection of intriguing video demos showing examples of visual stimuli used in the lab to study change blindness and inattentional blindness. In the first demo, for example, an actor changes into another actor within the same cut -- something that nave observers will fail to notice about a third of the time. These videos (22 in all) are available only for individual non-commercial, non-research, non-anything-but-good-clean-fun. [RS]
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Madagascar Fauna Group
This is the homepage of the Madagascar Fauna Group, an "international consortium of zoos and related organizations that pool their talents and resources to work together in one of the world's most endangered places." Readers will find loads of information about the island and its diverse assortment of animal species, many of which are "bizarrely beautiful" and found nowhere else. The site also offers a number of Web links for general information about Madagascar, educational sites about lemurs and other animals, and links geared towards kids. [RS]
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World Resources Institute: A Guide to World Resources 2002-2004 [pdf]
The World Resources Institute (WRI) offers an electronic version of the Guide to World Resources 2002-2004: Decisions for the Earth: Balance, Voice, and Power. The report, which was distributed in part at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development conference in Johannesburg, is now available in its entirety to any interested reader. Issues addressed include direction for "environmental governance," the role of information technology in the equitable distribution of power, public participation in environmental policymaking, and more. The report's substantial executive summary provides a comprehensive overview of key issues. [RS]
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Tigers [RealOne Player]
This World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Web site offers an excellent introduction to tigers and WWF efforts to protect these highly endangered animals. The site covers tiger natural history, related scientific research, and current WWF projects in India and elsewhere. In Field Notes, visitors can retrace the route of a WWF conservation officer who has recently returned from a world tour of tiger field projects. Visitors will also find a short video featuring a wild tiger, a quiz, and information on WWF's Adopt a Tiger program. [RS]
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Grasshoppers: Their Biology, Identification, and Management [pdf]
The US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Research Service provides this detailed extension resource on the biology, identification, and management of grasshoppers. Identification tools, species fact sheets, an integrated pest management handbook are available. Recent additions include a guide to the grasshoppers of New Mexico and a 2003 grasshopper hazard map, among others. [RS]
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Marine and Coastal [Macromedia Flash Player]
Anyone interested in learning more about the state of coral reefs, marine wildlife, wetlands, and beaches in the US national park system should find this National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) Web site of interest. Each of these four natural resources is presented with a brief but informative introduction and loads of links to related NPCA Web pages. In the coral reefs section, for example, users may read up on coral regeneration and snorkeling tips, and visit NPCA Web pages devoted to national parks where coral reefs are found. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

50 Years of DNA
1. National Human Genome Research Institute
2. The Wellcome Trust: The Human Genome [Macromedia Flash Player]
3. NOVA: Cracking the Code of Life [Flash, QuickTime, RealOne Player]
4. NOVA: Secret of Photo 51 [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime, RealOne Player]
5. Double Helix: 50 Years of DNA [pdf]
6. This Week on Science Friday: May 2, 2003 [RealOne Player]
7. The National Academies Press: The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling the Unity of Life
8. The Human Genome, By All of the Top Editorial Cartoonists
As 2003 marks the completion of the human genome sequence and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix, the Internet has exploded with noteworthy Web sites on the topic. The following represent just some of what the Web has to offer. The first site is the homepage of the National Human Genome Research Institute (1) -- a good place to start even if the content and presentation are somewhat less engaging than they could be. The next Web site (2) comes from the UK's Wellcome Trust, offering a comprehensive introduction to the human genome -- "the science, its role in health and medicine, and the broader social impact of unraveling its mysteries." The next two sites -- both from PBS's NOVA contain dozens of essays, interviews, multimedia tutorials, video clips, and other engaging features on DNA and genomic research. The first of the two is the companion Web site for "Cracking the Code of Life," a documentary originally broadcast April, 2001 (3). The second, the companion site for "The Secret of Photo 51," presents an intriguing look at Rosalind Franklin, the molecular biologist whose work played an integral role in the discovery of the DNA molecule, but who received no credit for her contribution (4). Nature, the journal that published Watson and Crick's original paper on the discovery of the DNA double helix in 1953, offers a Web focus "containing news, features and web specials celebrating the historical, scientific and cultural impacts of the discovery of the double helix" (5). National Public Radio's Science Friday recently broadcast an interview with Watson, who talks about his life in genetics. Audio of entire broadcast is available in this Web site (6). For an in-depth consideration of the significance and ramifications of genomic research, readers may wish to browse through The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling the Unity of Life, an electronic book from the National Academies Press (7). And on the lighter side, MSN's online publication Slate offers a collection of 20 editorial cartoons featuring the human genome (8). [RS]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. 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.

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