The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 11

May 30, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


The Fred L. Soper Papers [pdf]
The National Library of Medicine presents the Fred L. Soper Papers, a new Profiles in Science feature. The collection includes a selection of digitized documents available for use by educators and researchers. First-time visitors may wish to begin with the online exhibit -- a well-presented introduction to the scientific career and professional life of Soper, an American epidemiologist and public health administrator who "set new standards for disease control worldwide." Users may also search the site for specific documents and visuals, or easily browse the entire collection listed alphabetically or chronologically. [RS]
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ARMI National Atlas for Amphibian Distributions
The Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative National Atlas for Amphibian Distributions (ARMI Atlas) is "a compilation of current and historic records of amphibian occurrences" developed by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center -- part of the U.S. Geological Survey. New to the Scout Report, the ARMI Atlas integrates records from peer-reviewed scientific literature, museum records, state and regional herpetological atlases, and "other confirmed and validated observations." This regularly updated resource allows users to quickly determine when and where amphibians were last documented in a given area -- distribution gaps may suggest potential areas of study. The ARMI Atlas is intended as an educational tool, a reference for habitat managers, a resource for and by herpetologists, or any other use that contributes to long-term amphibian monitoring efforts. [RS]
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RatMap: The Rat Genome Database
The Rat Genome Database (RatMap) -- available through the Department for Cell and Molecular Biology, Gteborg University, Sweden -- offers information on rat gene nomenclature, chromosomal positions for genes (including predicted positions), gene function, literature references, and much more. Gene records in the database may be recalled with a locus query or by browsing lists, and some data sets may be downloaded. RatMap also includes an extensive set of related links. [RS]
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Malaria Parasite Metabolic Pathways
This tremendously comprehensive Web site aims to facilitate "post-genomic" research on the biochemical processes of Plasmodium, the species of protists that cause malaria. The Web site, sponsored by the Computation Authority of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offers a compilation of Plasmodium metabolic pathway maps culled from other, more general biochemistry sites. Each map is linked to others so that users may trace the fate or origin of each metabolite. The maps include links to PubMed abstracts and related Web pages for more detailed information. Through an ask-the-expert feature several experts on the biochemistry of malaria parasites are also available to tackle questions from "active investigators" making use of the Web site. [RS]
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Atlas of Russia's Intact Forest Landscapes
The Atlas of Russia's Intact Forest Landscapes comes from, a Web portal focused on Russian forests and forestry practices and supported by a network of non-governmental Russian environmental organizations. The Atlas was developed to address "the need of the public to know the ecological condition of Russia's forest lands, and the need of the decision maker to have accurate, relevant and accessible information at hand." The Atlas has two map sections, one showing the location of Russia's intact forest tracts and another showing tree species composition. Users may quickly find specific tracts using indices of settlement names, administrative regions, and major geographical regions. [RS]
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Brain Architecture Management System
The Brain Architecture Management System (BAMS) presents "a repository of information about brain structures from different species," including a set of online tools for processing neurobiological data. BAMS -- created by neuroscience researchers at the University of Southern California -- incorporates information from the literature and experimental data submitted to the Web site from neuroscientists worldwide. BAMS is organized into four modules: Brain Parts, Cell Types, Relations, and Connections. Among the many features of this Web site, users will find thousands of reports on rat brain structure connections, and may view projection patterns or "construct reports of connectivity matrices related to brain structures of interest." [RS]
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FlyNome is the brainchild of Drosophila researcher, Christopher Yohn, of the Skirball Institute in New York City. Yohn created this Web site out of the frustration involved in trying to find the stories behind the names of fruit fly genes. New to the Scout Report, FlyNome "is intended to be a resource for the Drosophila community by serving as a reliable tool to which fly researchers can refer and contribute." Users may search the database by gene symbol, full gene name, name of contributor, or simply browse all entries. FlyNome will also track down stories (by request) for genes not currently in the database. The site also includes useful Web links and a FAQ page. [RS]
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RangeModel is an "animated, graphical application designed to demonstrate the mechanism behind the mid-domain effect" on species richness developed by Dr.Robert K. Colwell from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. Users who download RangeModel do not need to supply their own data to run the program -- several built-in options allow users to explore RangeModel and its applications. Of course, users may also import their own empirical or theoretical data and export results for statistical analysis in other programs. [RS]
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2can Bioinformatics
2can Bioinformatics, an educational Web site from the European Bioinformatics Institute, offers a valuable guide to the different molecular biology databases available to researchers. A series of well-designed tutorials covers the basics of comparing and analyzing gene sequences -- no small feat considering the dizzying number of bioinformatics databases available on the Web. The tutorials cover nucleotide analysis, protein analysis, protein function, protein structure, genome browsing, and database browsing. Other features include an overview of the numerous molecular databases available online, a Medline literature search engine, a much-needed glossary, and other resources. Considering that an astonishing amount of biological data -- especially from sequencing projects -- is deposited in electronic databases and no longer published in the conventional sense, 2can Bioinformatics really provides an indispensable service. [RS]
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Marine Biology: The Living Oceans [Macromedia Flash Player]
Marine biology is the latest topic from the American Museum of Natural History's OLogy Web site, which offers younger kids a fun, interactive way to explore different "-ologies" and meet the researchers who study them. The module for Marine Biology: The Living Oceans provides loads of colorful and engaging features focused on ocean ecosystems, marine biodiversity, and related topics. The Web site also has ideas for fun offline activities and offers interactive educational games such as Ocean Creature Feature -- a matching game that rewards players with collectable OLogy cards. [RS]
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Brains Rule! [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime]
Brains Rule!, a joint project of Creighton University and the University of Texas Health Science Center, aims to "promote learning about the brain and nervous system among children and adults using new and exciting teaching methods." A burst of crazy boingy sounds introduces the main feature: A diagram of the brain presenting a number of kid-friendly educational activities. Included are features such as Ask a Brain Expert (questions answered by bonafide neuroscientists) and a set of very cool animated games about the brain and nervous system. Teachers will find an excellent set of lesson plans for grades 3-6. The lessons in each of the four modules (Development, Cell Structure and Function, Brain Anatomy, and Applied Neuroscience) come with background material, classroom activities, vocabulary, resources and links, and more. [RS]
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4-H Virtual Farm [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime]
With the 4-H Virtual Farm, 4-H hopes to help kids "discover why farming is part of your life even if you've never lived on a farm, never seen crops grow in a field, or never touched a cow." Even though this Web site focuses, to an extent, on Virginia agriculture, the content should be applicable and interesting to any student. Six virtual farms are available (horse, aquaculture, beef, dairy, poultry, and wheat), each offering a variety of activities and multimedia features that help students explore agricultural ecology, resource management, and much more. After visiting the 4-H Virtual Farm, students can take the Blue Ribbon Challenge, a fun interactive quiz. [RS]
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Coral Bleaching -- Will Global Warming Kill the Reefs? [pdf, Microsoft Word]
This Web site from the Australian Academy of Science presents "reliable and up-to-date information" about coral reefs as part of Nova: Science in the News. This online educational series provides background information on timely issues to secondary school teachers (or any other interested reader). Visitors will find a brief overview of the biology and environmental status of coral reefs and an explanation of the effects of global climate change on these important ecosystems. For more in-depth information, the site provides a well-chosen selection of external links as well as citation information for print resources. Links to a wide selection of coral-related classroom activities, covering a range of grade levels from other organizations, are also available. [RS]
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NewsHour Extra: Addressing Health Mysteries [RealOne Player, Windows Media Player]
In this PBS NewsHour Extra lesson plan, students take an in-depth look at the SARS epidemic, with a particular focus on pan-national public health administration. A NewsHour interview with Dr. David Heyman, Director for Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO), forms the basis of the exercise (video, audio, and transcript available). A NewsHour Extra story on SARS provides additional material. The site also offers ideas for homework and extension activities, each designed to help students explore and understand the process by which organizations like WHO tackle new disease outbreaks. [RS]
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Jeopardy PowerPoint: Photosynthesis, Cell Respiration, Enzymes, and Light [ppt]
This AskERIC lesson plan, submitted by Aubrey Melton of the University of Michigan-Flint, provides a PowerPoint Jeopardy-like game that helps students review photosynthesis, cell respiration, enzymes, and light (in the context of photosynthesis). Designed for grades 8-11, the game lasts 55-60 minutes and includes an answer key. Users may preview the game before downloading the PowerPoint file. Once downloaded, teachers can easily tailor the questions to better reflect course content. [RS]
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Animals of the Chinese Zodiac [pdf]
This lesson plan comes from EDSITEment, an educational Web site from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the MarcoPolo Education Foundation. Although this lesson plan focuses on the humanities, it has a decidedly zoology angle that makes for an interesting multidisciplinary look at the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The lesson includes activities that help K-2nd grade students think about the characteristics we assign to animals (e.g. busy as a bee, strong as an ox), providing a great platform for further exploring animal traits from a life science point of view. Similar activities also provide great opportunities for incorporating zoology and natural history into the overall lesson, or sneaking in a lecture about anthropomorphism. [RS]
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Genetics Home Reference: Your Guide to Understanding Genetic Conditions
The Genetic Home Reference, offered through the National Library of Medicine, offers easy-to-understand "consumer information about genetic conditions and the genes responsible for those conditions." The site consists of four main sections: 1) summaries of genetic conditions including symptoms, treatment options, patterns of inheritance, and other important information; 2) summary information for the genes responsible for genetic disorders; 3) an introduction to genetics and genetic research; and 4) a searchable glossary. Users may easily search or browse the site for specific information, and numerous links to related resources are provided. [RS]
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Galapagos: Way Beyond Darwin [RealOne Player, Windows Media Player]
Visitors to this Web site will find an interesting presentation given by marine biologist, Carole Baldwin, as part of the Pfizer Foundation Distinguished Lecture Series at the Smithsonian Institution. Baldwin, Curator of the Smithsonian's Division of Fishes, provides a "behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of the popular 3-D IMAX film about the Galapagos Islands." The site provides both audio and video of the entire presentation as well as a number of related links. [RS]
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World Environment Day 5 June [pdf]
This Web site introduces the United Nations Environment Programme's World Environment Day (WED), hosted this year in Beirut. World Environment Day is "one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action." This year's theme is "Water -- Two Billion People are Dying for It." Features available on the Web site include downloadable informational material, descriptions of WED events planned around the world, a fantastic collection of water-related photos from UNEP's International Photographic Competition, and much more. The site also includes a quiz where users can test their understanding of water resources and responsible water usage. Also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish. [RS]
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The Museum of Bacteria
The Museum of Bacteria serves as a clearinghouse of Web links on bacteria and bacteriology and also provides "crystal-clear information about many aspects of bacteria." The Museum of Bacteria is provided by the Foundation of Bacteria, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the field of bacteriology. Links are selected for a general audience, although one section is geared toward professionals in the field. Some of the latest features of the Museum are an "exhibit" on the good bacteria found in food and a Student Hall where students can present their own bacteria-related projects. [RS]
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Killer Caterpillars [Macromedia Flash Player, RealOne Player, Windows Media Player]
The online companion to the June 2003 issue of National Geographic magazine includes a fascinating (if somewhat grisly) look at carnivorous caterpillars, which represent less than one percent of known butterfly and moth species. The Web site offers a number of multimedia features, including the amplified "drumming and grunts" of Maculinea alcon caterpillars inside a nest of ants, and a movie of a carnivorous caterpillar devouring a fly. The site also contains an excerpt from the magazine article, an extra essay about acid-squirting ants, a Web-exclusive photo gallery, and other interesting features. [RS]
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Devonian Ocean Simulator [Macromedia Shockwave Player]
Navigate along a prehistoric ocean floor in this Devonian ocean simulator created by multimedia designer Christian Darkin. With excellent graphics and a convincing underwater feel, the simulator presents a fun way to learn about marine life from the Devonian period. Pointing the mouse at a creature as it swims by brings up a short description. Low-end and high-end versions of the Devonian ocean simulator are available, with the only difference between them being the number of animals in the simulation. The site also presents two work-in-progress dinosaur demos that are worth checking out. [RS]
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Botanique: Portal to Garden, Arboreta, and Nature Sites
Botanique is a portal to over 2300 garden, arboreta, and natural areas in Canada and the U.S. A number of easy-to-use search options (including an interactive map) allow users to find the gardens, etc. in any area -- a great tool for planning garden tour trips. Many listings include outside links for further information. Botanique offers a variety of other useful features, such as an events calendar and a selection of annotated "Favorites" Web sites. The Resources section contains loads of links to great Web sites of interest to gardeners. [RS]
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Spring Forward
"From gardening to spring cleaning, there are many ways you can help the environment." Visitors can learn more about eco-friendly spring projects from this Environment Canada Web site. Although content is geared toward Canadian residents, the site should be of interest to anyone. Visitors will find information on environmentally sensitive cleaning products and pesticide alternatives, composting and vermiculture tips, a guide to North American migratory birds, and more. This Web site may be focused on springtime, but much of the content and advice holds true for any season. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
1. CDC: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
2. World Health Organization: Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome [pdf]
3. Science Magazine: Special Online Collection: The SARS Epidemic
4. NPR: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome [RealOne Player, Windows Media Player]
5. The New York Times: The SARS Epidemic
6. The Mystery of the SARS Virus: How is it Spread?
7. Special Report
8. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Battling SARS: China's Silence Costs Lives
These Web sites provide detailed and timely information about SARS. The Centers for Disease Control Web site on SARS (1) is a great place to begin an online exploration of the disease and the current epidemic. Visitors will find general information about SARS, the latest CDC developments on the issue, SARS-related news, and much more. The next site is the World Health Organization's main Web page on SARS, offering similar resources to the CDC site but with a greater focus on disease surveillance and response (2). The journal Science offers a free online collection of recent, SARS-related scholarly articles -- an excellent resource for readers who would like to explore the issue in great depth (3). National Public Radio has compiled its recent coverage of SARS in one convenient online location (4). Transcripts and audio are available for each broadcast. Similarly, the New York Times offers an online Science Special devoted to SARS (5). Free registration is required to access the articles and other features. The following Web site contains an interesting article about SARS from National Geographic News and includes an image of a coronavirus, the type of virus most likely behind the SARS outbreak (6). Visitors will find the latest CNN reports on the epidemic in the next site, which also includes an excellent timeline of the key developments in the SARS outbreak since February 2003 (7). The video segments presented on this page are not available without a paid subscription. And, finally, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers a number of articles that offer interesting perspectives on the SARS situation. The Web page listed here (8) features an article originally published in the International Herald Tribune. More articles can be found by entering "SARS" in the Web site's search engine. [RS]

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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.

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