The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 12

Date June 13, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Migratory Pollinators Program Spring 2003 Update
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum presents this update on the Museum's Migratory Pollinators Program, which focuses primarily on part of the nectar corridor extending from south-central Mexico to central Arizona. The report, which covers program-related research, is nicely presented and a pleasure to read. Anyone with even a passing interest in plant-pollinator interactions should find this site appealing. Museum researchers examined the migratory routes of lesser long-nosed bats, rufous hummingbirds, Western white-winged doves, and monarch butterflies. Each species exhibits extraordinary migratory behavior now considered "endangered natural phenomena" due to poor ecological conditions along their 2000 to 6000 kilometer flyways. The report also includes a useful glossary and an overview of the Museum's education outreach program. [RS]
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The American Naturalist -- Electronic Edition [pdf]
"The American Naturalist" now offers free access to rapid-release articles from upcoming issues of the journal. These articles will be made available until the issue they will appear in is published electronically, after which a paid subscription is required to view them online. As of June 13, 2003, three articles are available, covering gynodioecy, sexual selection in dung beetles, and epidemiological traits in a model of host-parasite interactions. An excellent resource, and now it's free -- kind of. [RS]
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Venomous Snakes of North Carolina [pdf]
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences offers this downloadable guide to the state's six species of venomous snakes. This well-illustrated 19-page guide includes an identification key, natural history and conservation information for each species, and a small sidebar on snakebite treatment -- particularly handy if you have trouble with the identification key when next in snake habitat. The information presented in this guide reflects the Museum's specimen collection and snake distribution records, as well as data from 50 other herpetological collections. The guide also lists related print resources and Web sites. [RS]
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AgeSource Worldwide: Information Resources About Aging from Around the World
AgeSource Worldwide is a new Web feature from the American Association of Retired Persons. Content reflects resources from over twenty nations, and includes "clearinghouses, databases, libraries, directories, statistical resources, bibliographies and reading lists, texts, and Web metasites focusing on aging or closely allied subjects." AgeSource Worldwide is designed for a variety of audiences, including the gerontology research community. Whatever your age-related interests, chances are this incredibly comprehensive Web site will have something of use. Also available in French and Spanish. [RS]
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BioMedNet: Microbiologists Take Homeland Security in Their Stride
This BioMedNet Web site contains a conference summary for the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held in May 2003. Readers will find engaging, journalistic coverage of conference presentations spanning a dizzying array of microbiology topics such as bioterrorism, rechargeable batteries, and Staphylococcus contamination of the shroud of Turin. Researchers and general readers alike should find this conference summary appealing and informative. The site, which requires free registration with BioMedNet, also includes profiles of each investigator who presented at the 4-day meeting. [RS]
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SARS Reference [pdf], the online Medical Literature Guide, has recently made available the SARS reference -- a "comprehensive and up-to-date overview of severe acute respiratory syndrome" edited by Christian Drosten and Wolfgang Preiser. Offered free of charge to any user, the SARS reference will be updated monthly for the duration of the epidemic. Content includes SARS virology, epidemiology, treatment, a timeline, and a number of other timely and important topics. Users may view chapters individually within their browser, or download the entire publication. Also available in Spanish and Chinese. [RS]
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VCSU Macro-Invertebrate Lab - Digital Key to Aquatic Insects of North Dakota
This well-illustrated key to the aquatic insects of North Dakota comes courtesy of the macroinvertebrate lab at Valley City State University and the North Dakota Department of Health. Intended as a tool for regional biomonitoring programs, this key is quite easy to use and contains loads of extra information not normally found in traditional dichotomous keys. The site includes lists, keys, and distribution maps on the scale of order and family. Detailed descriptions and additional photos accompany each taxonomic group. The site also defines terms that may not be familiar to those new to the study of aquatic invertebrates. [RS]
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Myc Cancer Gene
This Web site, offered through Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Health System, aims to "provide a hub for the integration of information on Myc target genes, the role of Myc in human cancers, and proteins that interact with the Myc transcription factors." Users will find a well-organized collection of resources relating to Myc, such as an extensive set of links to PubMed articles, related databases, and some original data. The Web site's introduction provides a very readable explanation of Myc gene function and its role in tumor formation. Researchers working with Myc are encouraged to submit data to the site, which also offers a Myc-related listserve for convenient email updates. [RS]
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MacGillivray Freeman: Coral Reef Adventure [pdf]
This extensive educational resource from MacGillivray Freeman Films is aimed at assisting educators of grades 4-8 who are interested in teaching about the scientific and social aspects of reefs. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation, among others, the film and the Teacher's Guide are not only very valuable, they are also linked to national science education standards. And, while there is an easy-to-use theater listing for teachers wishing to take their students, the seven lessons in the guide can be downloaded and used without needing to see the film first, or at all. Also included are resources on how to become a Coral Crusader as well as reading lists for books and field guides related to reefs which are separated into various reading levels, including adults. [JPM]
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University of Michigan Medical School: Gross Anatomy Learning Modules
Students and instructors will benefit from this online tutorial of human anatomical terms. The modules feature brief and easy-to-understand introductions to basic anatomy. Included are the head and neck, the nervous system, the thorax, the abdomen, the pelvis, and joints. A great tool included in each module is a question at the end, reviewing what was covered in that module. By passing the question, the user then moves on to the next module or, by not passing, goes back to review and try again. Each one also features very detailed graphics -- diagrams, sketches, and photographs -- in order to easily demonstrate the given topic. While this resource may be helpful to pre-college students, teachers should be aware that there indeed are some photos of cadavers in the modules. [JPM]
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American Phytopathological Society: Plant Disease Lessons
If Citrus Canker or Apple Scab are on your syllabus -- or worse yet, on your trees -- then this is the Web site for you. The APS Education Center has organized this very helpful online guide of plant diseases. Each excerpt is more of an information card than a detailed description, but they are very easy to use and organized well. Each Plant Disease Lesson includes: the name of the disease, the pathogen(s), and the host(s), as well as a clear picture of what an affected plant looks like. There are 17 diseases covered under the subgroups of: fungi and fungus-like organisms, nematodes, prokaryotes, and viruses. [JPM]
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Franklin Institute: Curricular Companions and Kits [Macromedia Flash Player, JAVA 3D]
The Franklin Institute Keystone Science Network seeks to "provide web-based support for K-8 teachers using inquiry science kits in their classroom." The resources cover life, earth, and physical sciences. Those specifically devoted to life sciences include curriculum companions and kits covering the human body, organisms, plant growth and development, and the environment. Each Curriculum Companion comes with background information, are many options. One background resource for the human body, the Virtual Body, is available in English or Spanish and takes the user through a beating heart or up-close with the digestive track, among many other offerings. A very well organized Kit Matrix helps the user find which resources are best for a given subject and grade level. This Web site is should be a gem for any K-8 teacher looking for immediately useful, and credible, science curriculum teaching resources. [JPM]
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Scientific American Frontiers: Worried Sick
This Web site is a companion to an episode of the PBS television series, Scientific American Frontiers, on the effects of stress on human health and happiness. A synopsis of the episode's segments are offered as well as four Web features that extend the information from the broadcasted show. In the features are a cultural history of stress in the 20th Century, a brief test to determine what flavor of aggression you might be, tips on relaxation, and finally an informative essay on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As with the style of this PBS television series, the writing and information are presented for the general adult viewer or teen in clear language without scientific jargon. The site would be useful place to start discovering the science of stress. [DJS]
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HIV Medicine: A Medical Texbook
HIV Medicine is an online medical textbook that provides comprehensive and timely information on HIV treatment. Chapters include background information on Acute HIV-1 Infection, and a detailed guide to HIV Therapy. There is also current information about side effects, Lipodystrophy Syndrome, and resistance testing. The online textbook includes an impressive, in-depth index of HIV drugs. Editors Christian Hoffmann and Bernd Sebastian Kamps have years of experience in the medical field and provide free and anonymous access of their text to the public. Collaborators include Nyasha Bakare, MD who has worked at the Research Institute for Genetic and Human Therapy (RIGHT) since 2001, and has been working on the clinical development of a therapeutic HIV vaccine. This Web site is easy to navigate and its layout nicely mirrors the organization of a paper textbook. It will be useful as a research tool for college and graduate students as well as for the layperson who desires more in-depth information on HIV and treatments. Join the mailing list to be notified of new chapters and updates. [TJS]
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Lewis and Clark as Naturalists [Macromedia Flash Reader, Adobe Illustrator, QuickTime]
Lewis and Clark as Naturalists, a Smithsonian Institution Web site, allows users to participate in the explorers' historic cross-country trek from a naturalist's point of view. The visually pleasing and well organized site provides a variety of access points to specimens culled primarily from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. An interactive map of the journey west provides links to everything from Ampelopsis cordata (heartleaf peppervine) to Cynomys ludovicianus (black-tailed prairie dog). The entry on the latter includes the ability to take a 360-degree "tour" of an actual prairie dog's skull. A well created browse feature also allows for exploration by species, date collected, or state. [RB]
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BAM! Body and Mind: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
BAM! Body and Mind was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for kids and teachers. The site offers a fun, interactive approach to raising kids' awareness of health issues, and ways to make their bodies and minds stronger. Topics covered include nutrition and fitness, disease, mental health, peer pressure and relationships. The site is also a resource for teachers who want to incorporate health issues into the classroom. In designing this site, the CDC collaborated with teachers to find out which health and science issues would be most applicable to their students and would complement their existing lesson plans. Kids and teachers can benefit from interactive features such as activity cards and online quizzes that utilize colorful graphics. BAM! is an educational and fun way for kids to learn about keeping their bodies and minds healthy, strong and safe. [TJS]
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For those with hearts that flutter with the sight of a monarch, this site will be essential. The simply-stated, yet ambitious, mission of is "to educate everyone in the United States and beyond about habitat loss and what they can do to assist native animals." A significant goal of the site is to distribute free milkweed seeds to anyone interested in helping the cause of helping monarchs, stating: "Monarchs are not pests and will not eat anything but Milkweed. They do not hurt crops, ornamental trees or in any way upset the balance of nature in areas they are introduced." In fact, if anything results from the introduction of more monarchs, it will be a move towards a better balance. As the result of several days of freezing rain and unusually cold temperatures in 2002, nearly 80 percent of the monarchs wintering in Mexico died. While they are making a comeback, states that "one seed can change the world." The organization even offers free milkweed seeds off of its Web site. [JPM]
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ARKive: Images of Life on Earth [QuickTime, Windows Media Player, RealOne Player]
ARKive, an initiative of Great Britain's Wildscreen Trust, is a growing catalog of information, pictures, and videos, illustrating our Earth's diverse species. Currently, ARKive provides excellent images and informative descriptions of select endangered species, as well as of species native to the British Islands. Eventually the page will contain "an audio-visual record, where possible, for the 11,000 animals and plants threatened with extinction." Users can browse through the current catalog to locate specific plants or animals, reading about their native habitat, present threats to their viability, and current conservation events. The information is straightforward and easily useful to the non-professional visitor to the site. Students and educators will enjoy ARKive's collection of lesson plans and support material as well as Planet ARKive a collection of games and materials created especially for kids. [CH]
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Ask Dog Lady
What to do with a problem dog? What is the best book on dog training? Would Tony Soprano benefit from owning a dog? How can you trust your dog walker with your dog? All these questions are addressed by the Dog Lady, who gives advice, as she says herself, on "dogs, love, and life." Always readable and often funny, the Dog Lady answers emails from viewers with questions about their canine pets. Users can read recent columns or review the "Best in Show" archive, a collection of the Dog Lady's most memorable advice. [CH]

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ADEAR: Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center [pdf, RealOne Player]
Alzheimer's disease is one of the most serious health problems for the elderly, and no cure has yet been found. To shed some light on this mysterious illness, the National Institute on Aging provides this valuable resource explaining how Alzheimer's affects the minds of people suffering from it. In an overview of potential causes, the site distinguishes between genetic risk factors for early and late onset Alzheimer's. The material concludes with a look at diagnosis techniques and new treatments that could help slow or prevent the disease from manifesting itself. [CL]
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Nature Article Press Supplement: Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities [pdf, Microsoft Word, QuickTime]
A biology professor at Dalhousie University offers this supplement to a recent article in the journal Nature, which showed that there may be only ten percent of all large fish left in the global ocean. A three-page press release summarizes the article, outlines its implications, and calls for international collaboration to restore marine ecosystems. Additionally, the Web site provides graphical representations and statistics showing the global decline in biomass over the past half century for several ocean locations. [CL]
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Wild Reef: Sharks at Shedd
This online showcase is built around the Wild Reef exhibit in Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. Recently completed as an underground addition to the historic Shedd building, the exhibit features sharks, rays, eels, and a variety of fish species typical for a living coral reef of the Philippines. To create this ecosystem, the design team traveled to the Philippines and consulted with both scientific advisors and Chicago's Filipino-American community. The Web site is a good introduction to the background of the project and most of the species to be found there. The site also offers brief essays on protecting coral reefs and a guide for teachers. Unfortunately, the site is short on images so it isn't as visually captivating as a trip to the Shedd itself. [DJS]
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NASA Earth Observatory: Escape from the Amazon
As part of NASA's Earth Observatory, visitors to the Escape from the Amazon Web site are invited to "Accompany NASA scientists as they explore our world and unravel the mysteries of climate and environmental change." The Escape from the Amazon feature focuses on the buildup of carbon dioxide and its effect on global climate change, and the role that forests play in reversing this trend. A really neat feature of this site is a glossary function that can be turned on or off. When on, it highlights technical terms. Clicking on any highlighted term will bring up a very descriptive and straightforward definition. Also included as the second part of the feature is an introduction to the large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia. This feature highlights the enormity and significance of the Amazon River Valley and its effect on global climate. This Web site is a great outreach and educational tool offered by NASA and should be interesting to lay readers, scientists, and teachers. Several great graphics help to illustrate the information provided. [JPM]
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Unwinding DNA: Life at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Science, a human endeavor, would not be successful without cooperation. The Cold Spring Laboratory, located in Long Island, New York, is the epitome of cooperation in the study of DNA. Cold Spring's current president and Nobel Laureate, James Watson, stresses the importance of working together in a common place, saying "The study of this information is in some sense the heart of life. You needed an institution that reflected this fact." Visitors to this Web site can get up-close to this reflection by delving into subpages on the Place, People, Ideas, and Tools involved in studying DNA. By clicking on Place, for instance, users can learn about Uplands farm -- a collection of 5000 square feet of greenhouse space and fields -- or the Genome Center -- where things like DNA sequencing and bioinformatics happen on a daily basis. Also available off the Ideas link is a look at a reprint of the original 1953 paper in the journal Nature by James Watson and Francis Crick. This site will serve as a great destination for historians, scientists, teachers, and students interested in the quest to understand DNA but also for any lay reader. [JPM]
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Topic In Depth

1. Scientific American: Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes
2. Psychophysical Investigations into the Neural Basis of Synaesthesia [pdf]
3. Synethesia
4. Everyday fantasia: The world of synesthesia
5. Reith Lectures 2003: The Emerging Mind [RealOne Player]
6. Synesthesia and the Synesthetic Experience [pdf, QuickTime]
7. Welcome to Synesthesia Interactive Music Visualization from I.V.!
8. Synaesthesia in the Arts
As the "Scientific American_ article in the first Web site (1) asks: "When you eat chicken, does it feel pointy or round? Is a week shaped like a tipped-over D with the days arranged counterclockwise? Does the [musical] note B taste like horseradish? Do you get confused about appointments because Tuesday and Thursday have the same color?" For most people, the answer would be a resounding 'no,' but for a few, life without this integration of two or more senses would be unimaginable. The feature-length story from Scientific American, written by two scientists from the University of California-San Diego, offers an excellent resource for exploring the fascinating neurological condition known as synesthesia. The following site (2) contains a scientific paper on the neural basis for synesthesia, published by the same authors of the previous article. For a more general overview of synesthesia, check out this brief Web site from Neuroscience for Kids, an educational feature provided by Eric H. Chudler of the University of Washington (3). Similarly, the following Web site contains an article from the Monitor on Psychology offering a condensed introduction to synesthesia and a history of research in this area (4). The BBC Web site offers a full transcript and audio file of a recent lecture and Q&A session given by V. S. Ramachandran (again, one of the authors of the Scientific American pieces), as part of the Reith Lecture Series 2003 (5). The next Web site from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6) offers interesting excerpts from a conversation between two synesthetes about their own unique versions of synesthesia. With the next site (7), non-synesthetes can experience something loosely similar to the real thing via a downloadable "real time interactive music-visualization program, which endeavours to use for intensification of music perception natural connection between acoustic and visual sensations," created by I. Vilenkin. Finally, synesthetes are well-represented in the arts, as evidenced by this Web site from the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge University -- readers will find descriptions of some famous synesthetes, as well as examples of non-synesthetic artists, composers, and writers whose work embraces synesthetic expression (8). [RS]

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