The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 13

June 27, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Berkeley Lab 2002-2003 Highlights: Biosciences and Health
This Web site highlights new developments in biosciences and health research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. As part of a special issue of the Berkeley Lab Research Review, this site offers short articles featuring Berkeley researchers and covers such diverse topics as the genome of the Japanese pufferfish and the structure of water channels in cell membranes. The articles are written for a general audience, and each featured research project concerns some aspect of human health. [RS]
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SARS in the Context of Emerging Infectious Threats [pdf]
This Web site contains proceedings from the recent New York Academy of Science conference: "SARS in the Context of Emerging Infectious Threats." Virologists, epidemiologists, or anyone else interested in SARS should appreciate this timely and informative resource. Free registration allows users to access a number of informative materials. Sections include Coronavirus Biology and Pathogenesis, Approaches to Vaccines and Drug Development, and more. Conference highlights and a complete conference transcript are also available. A few features, such as Latest Headlines and the reference section, may be accessed without registration. [RS]
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Crocodiles and Turtles of Borneo
Whether you're a herpetologist or just have a fascination for reptiles, you will want to check out this Web site from the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the University of Malaysia, Sarawak. The site presents all documented crocodiles and turtles found on Borneo, representing six families altogether. An easy-to-use drop-down menu for each family lists individual species. Each species page provides a great photo as well as the "current valid scientific name, the English name, maximum size recorded, synonymy, besides notes on identification, natural history and distribution." Users may also browse all photos together in the image gallery. A short bibliography is included. [RS]
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Protist Information Server [QuickTime]
The Protist Information Server is available through the Soken Taxa Web Server and Japan Science and Technology Corporation. Intended as a resource for research and education, the Protist Information Server contains over 31,000 images of protists representing 487 genera and 1617 species. Users will also find over 500 QuickTime movies, tons of related Web links, a recently added list of biodiversity Web sites in Japan, plus lots of other resources. Specific protist images are quickly found and organized by taxa or by subject, such as behavior, cell division, surface structure, and so on. Also available in Japanese. [RS]
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Alaska Fisheries Science Center: Fish Bycatch Discard and Escapee Mortality [pdf]
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center's (AFSC) latest Quarterly Research Report features research on fish bycatch discard and escapee mortality conducted by the AFSC. Readers will find a summary article for the report on the main Web page. The entire 9-page report details "systematic bycatch research conducted over the past 10 years in the laboratory of the AFSC's Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Group," and may be downloaded as a PDF document. The Web site also contains links to detailed reports from a number of AFSC research divisions. [RS]
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Sfold: Software for Statistical Folding and Rational Design of Nucleic Acids
Available free of charge to any researcher for non-commercial applications, Sfold "predicts probable RNA secondary structures, assesses target accessibility, and provides tools for the rational design of RNA-targeting nucleic acids." Sfold is offered through the Wadsworth center of the New York State Department of Health. Sfold application modules allow users to target accessibility prediction and rational design of siRNA, antisense oligonucelotides and nucleic acid probes, trans-cleaving ribozymes, and to generate general features and output for statistical RNA folding. [RS]
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The 21st International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology
This Web site presents abstracts submitted for the plenary and poster sessions of the International Conference on Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology in Gteborg, Sweden (July 7-12th, 2003). These abstracts are available though the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD) at the Department of Genetics at the School of Medicine, Stanford University. Users may easily browse or search the material, or follow links to find out more about SGD and the upcoming conference. [RS]
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CalFlora: New Additions
CalFlora is a searchable Web-based catalog of plant distribution information for California, and is "designed to provide ready access to educational information, as well as scientific data needed to identify critical issues in conservation of plant diversity" and other important applications. CalFlora has been online for some years, but the database now includes over 300 recently added species reports. CalFlora is a joint project of several research bodies, including the UC Berkeley Digital Library Project and UC Davis Information Center for the Environment. [RS]
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The International Snow Leopard Trust [Macromedia Flash Player, RealOne Player]
The International Snow Leopard Trust (ISLT), based in Seattle, Washington, "is the oldest and largest organization focused solely on developing successful strategies for protecting the snow leopard and its habitat." Visitors to the ISLT Web site can read up on interesting cat facts, find the latest related news, browse descriptions of global conservation efforts, and more. Click on Classroom to access information about ISLT's "holistic package for teachers far from snow leopard counties to help their students understand different aspects of mountain biodiversity and conservation." Overviews of lesson plans ranging from grades 1 through 8 are provided. Interested users may contact ISLT via email to receive the free lesson plans. The lessons titled "All Ears for Adaptation: A lesson in ear design" (grades 1-6) and "Prey and Predator: A lesson on Interaction' (grades 1-8) have the most direct life science focus. The site also offers terrific snow leopard photos and video footage. [RS]
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Dogs: Wolf, Myth, Hero & Friend [pdf]
This Web site is the online companion to "the largest and most comprehensive traveling exhibition ever created to explore the history, biology, and evolution of dogs and the role of dogs in human societies." Currently at the San Diego Natural History Museum, the exhibit "uses the familiarity and love of these four-legged friends to explore science and biological concepts." The same goes for the downloadable Teacher's Guide, which contains exhibit-based activities that could be modified for the classroom as well. The Teacher's Guide also includes plenty of background information, vocabulary, stand-alone classroom activities, and an answer key. The site offers a number of other engaging features, such as the kid-friendly Canine Corner, full of fun facts and additional references that could also be of use in the classroom. [RS]
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Two on Kelp Forests from the Birch Aquarium
Voyager: Giant Kelp
Voyager: The Sheltering Forest [RealOne Player]
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography offers these two Web sites as part of the Aquarium's online educational series, Voyager Science. Geared toward younger kids, these sites introduce the kelp forest and related concepts with great photos, informative descriptions, and a few interactive activities. Giant Kelp focuses on the kelp plant itself, including the many (and often surprising) commercial uses of kelp products. The Sheltering Forest focuses on the many animals that make their home in the kelp forest, emphasizing the interdependence of organisms in the kelp ecosystem. Simple at-home experiments and online activities are also included. [RS]
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Biochemistry Online: An Approach Based on Chemical Logic [pdf, Microsoft PowerPoint, Chime]
Biochemistry Online is a Web-based textbook developed by Dr. Henry Jakubowski for his first-semester biochemistry students at the College of St. Benedict / St. John's University. While a few features of this Web site are specific to Dr. Jakubowski's course, the online textbook should be of use to any biochemistry student. Biochemistry Online follows a topic order and conceptual framework intended to "create a coherent and sequential understanding of biochemistry, not a fragmented one without logical connections among topics" -- a common shortcoming of traditional textbooks. Loads of diagrams and 3-D animations are incorporated into the book's nine chapters, which begin with lipid structure and end with signal transduction. Dr. Jakubowski frequently updates Biochemistry Online with the latest relevant findings published in Nature,Science, and Chemical and Engineering News.
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Biotechnology Risk Assessment Data: Facts and Conclusions [pdf]
This Web site from the University of Florida and the US Department of Agriculture is "designed to help provide answers to these questions and necessary background information to understand the process of gene engineering and the available data relating to the safety of GMOs and the risk assessment questions asked." In the Just for Teachers section, users will find detailed fact sheets on a range of topics, such as gene flow between crops and weed species, seafood safety, transgenic insects, and more. The site also lists a number of lesson plan links, including lab exercises in DNA extraction and manipulation. [RS]
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Science NetLinks: Science Update About Lying [RealOne Player]
This Science Update from Science NetLinks offers students (grades 6-12) an interesting look at the psychology and phenomenon of lying. The lesson focuses on how the Fundamental Attribution Error relates to lying. Students listen to or read a transcript of a Science Update broadcast about research in this area, then tackle a set of discussion questions. In addition to understanding the topic, students must demonstrate an understanding of independent and dependent variables in the experimental process -- a valuable lesson in and of itself. Links to additional resources are included. [RS]
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Rainforest Alliance: For Kids and Teachers
The Rainforest Alliance, a non-profit international conservation organization, is dedicated to protecting "ecosystems and the people and wildlife that live within them by implementing better business practices for biodiversity conservation and sustainability." This particular Web page from the Rainforest Alliance offers a number of activities and other learning materials for the classroom, or just for fun. Kids can download a Tropical Coloring Book, learn about the different types of frogs in the Frog Pond, and much more. Teacher's can take advantage of suggested classroom activities for a range of grade levels and download rainforest fact sheets. The site also provides a handy list of museums, zoos, and botanical gardens with rainforest exhibits for possible field trips. [RS]
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Human Genetics: A Worldwide Search for the Dominant Trait -- Do You Have It?
This Web site provides instructions for a genetics-based collaborative project from the Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education. This survey-based project helps students ages 12-18 understand genetic inheritance by "gathering a great deal of information about specific, easily-seen human features," formulating hypotheses, and testing these hypotheses using data compiled by themselves and by students around the world. The project, which spans the fall semester, is open to interested students free of charge. Registration opens in the fall, and a helpful teaching guide is included. [RS]
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A Revolution in Progress: Human Genetics and Medical Research
The DeWitt Stetten, Jr., Museum of Medical Research at the National Institutes of Health presents this online version of the new exhibit, "A Revolution in Progress," which offers a comprehensive look at genetic research and its contribution to medical science. Readers can really cover some ground with this Web site, with pages upon pages devoted to a wide range of topics including genetic diseases, genes and drugs, the Human Genome Project, ethics and genetics, and more. Not overly familiar with genetic concepts? The Genetic Basics area of the site provides a solid and easy-to-follow introduction to the field. There is also a cartoon guide to genetics for kids. [RS]
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Asian American Health
The National Library of Medicine has recently launched the Asian America Health Web site, an "information portal to issues affecting the health and well-being of Asian Americans in the United States." Designed to increase public awareness of Asian American health concerns, this Web site provides links to authoritative information on topics of particular relevance to the Asian American population. Subjects covered include health and diseases, behavioral issues, complementary and alternative medicine, and more. [RS]
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The Center for Science in the Public Interest presents, an engaging way to learn more about nutrition and the food industry. Users will find loads of fun and informative features, such as Choose Ur Chews, where users select fast food and snack items from different categories to see how they measure up on the cal-o-meter and the sat-fat-o-meter. While visiting the site, watch for pop-up Snacktoids, providing "quick info bites that might surprise you." Users are also encouraged to take part in an email campaign to get Burger King to switch to a healthier type of frying oil (an easy-to-use Web form is provided). Articles and recipes, interesting video clips, and interactive games round out the site, which should prove a fun and worthwhile stop for any reader. [RS]
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Discovery Channel: Walking With Cavemen [Macromedia Flash Player]
This Web site presents online material for "Walking with Cavemen," a Discovery Channel documentary covering 3.5 million years of human evolution. The site offers an "illustrated journey of human evolution" introducing six hominids from Australopithecus afarensis to Homo neanderthalis. Likewise, visitors can take a look at some of the famous fossil findings that have shaped our understanding of human evolution, and also view a slide show about the traits that set humans apart from other species. The coolest feature is the virtual cave, where visitors take up a flashlight and search for clues about Neanderthal life in Western Europe 50,000 years ago. The fun multimedia features in this site make it well worth a visit even for those not especially interested in paleoanthropology. [RS]
[Back to Contents] [Macromedia Flash Player] is a "collaborative project between the Climate Trust, a pioneering non-profit organization that promotes climate change solutions, and Mercy Corps, a leading international relief and development agency with programs in over 30 countries around the world." Visitors can use the carbon counter to calculate how much carbon dioxide they emit over a year in their day-to-day use of cars, heat and air conditioning, etc. The counter provides two options: An estimate of CO2 emissions or a more exact calculation requiring detailed input. Once completed, visitors are solicited for donations for CO2 reduction programs, but you don't have to participate in this in order to use the counter. The site also presents a short movie about climate change, and the FAQ page is a good source for more detailed information. [RS]
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Ask NOAH About: Surgery [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]
Readers will find a comprehensive portal to online information about surgery in this Web site from New York Online Access to Health (NOAH). Ask NOAH lists informative external Web sites for a number of surgery-related topics, including anesthesia, surgery and children, incision care, and much more. The site also includes a video library, with selections covering such surgical procedures as laser eye surgery, plastic surgery, and a few others. Transcripts and related articles are available as well. This Ask NOAH feature also includes a useful glossary. [RS]
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MEDLINEPlus: Monkeypox Virus Infections [pdf]
Readers can keep up with the latest developments in the Monkeypox outbreak with this straightforward Web site from MEDLINEplus. The site features the latest Monkeypox news as well as links to authoritative sites for background information about the virus. Readers will also find information on prevention and screening, updated statistics on the outbreak from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and more. The site also includes a downloadable electron micrograph of the Monkeypox virus. [RS]
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Marine Species Conservation: Seabirds
This Web site is one of a number of similar features from Environment Australia's Marine Species Conservation Web site. Readers will find an excellent overview of Australia's seabirds, covering basic biology and natural history, habitat, threats, conservation efforts and more. The site focuses primarily on those seabirds known to be at risk of extinction due to human activity, particularly commercial fishing. Users can follow links to other Marine Species Conservation Web pages featuring dolphins, dugongs, marine turtles, sharks, and much more. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

Giants of the Animal Kingdom
1. Animal Planet: The Big and the Bizarre [Macromedia Flash Player, Real One Player, Windows Media Player]
2. Amos Nachoum's Big Animals Photography Expeditions
3. Nature: Toothwalkers: Giants of the Arctic Ice [Real One Player]
4. Discovery Channel: Chasing Giants: On the Trail of the Giant Squid [Macromedia Flash Player]
5. The Happy Capy
6. Biology and Captive-Breeding of the Giant Cockroach Blaberus giganteus
7. Nature: Critter Guide: Birds: Ostrich
8. American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet: Blue Whale
The following Web sites offer a quick tour of some of the planet's outsized inhabitants, from the relatively large (e.g. giant cave cockroach) to the just plain enormous (e.g. blue whale). The first Web site (1) is an Animal Planet Feature where visitors can meet giants of the past -- such as the giant komodo dragon and the giant sloth, and some of their smaller, modern-day cousins. The site contains lots of cool graphics, including 3-D rotatable images. The next stop is a commercial Web site advertising photography expeditions let by Amos Nachoum, a professional marine and wildlife photographer. All of the expeditions listed in the left-hand column include photo galleries where visitors can view terrific photos of Argentinian orcas, polar bears, blue whales, and more (2). The following Web site (3) is the online companion to "Toothwalkers: Giants of the Arctic Ice," a PBS Nature documentary about the giant saber-toothed Arctic walrus. Visitors will find special Web features, a video clip, and links to more information on the film and its gargantuan stars. The Discovery Channel introduces the elusive giant squid in this multimedia Web feature (4). Viewers will find loads of information on this amazing creature's natural history, literary history, and much more. The site also includes a trip on a virtual submersible, where you can learn more about life 2,000 feet below sea level. The next Web site is privately hosted by Chris "Capy" Head, and provides a great overview of the world's largest rodent, the undeniably adorable capybara (5). Visitors will find basic background information, links, a photo gallery, and more. Steve Bullington presents the giant cave roach in this privately-hosted Web site (6) as part of Bullington's Pet Arthropod Page. The site includes photos and detailed background information for this outsized roach (the world's largest species). The ostrich, which can claim the title of largest living bird (with the largest eggs, as well), gets its own page in this Web feature from PBS's Nature. Readers will find a quick overview of ostrich characteristics and natural history (7). And of course, what discussion of giant animals would be complete without mentioning the blue whale? In this Web site (8), the American Cetacean Society provides an informative fact sheet on "the largest mammal, possibly the largest animal, to ever inhabit the earth."

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