The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 14

July 11, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Nature: The Y Chromosome
The journal Nature presents this online special feature on the recently sequenced Y chromosome. The Web site offers a number of free informative resources, including an account of the sequencing project as well as related scientific papers and letters published in the journal. An archive of Y chromosome-related articles are also available for registered users (no cost for registration). In all, this Web special offers an excellent resource for exploring the Y chromosome, formerly regarded as a "genetic wasteland" before sequencing research revealed that "we may have underestimated its powers." [RS]
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West Nile Virus Map -- 2003
The maps available in this U.S. Geological Survey Web site reflect the most recent West Nile Virus (WNV) data reported to the Centers for Disease Control. Users will find national- and state-scale maps, although not all states are represented. Data covers human, bird, mosquito, sentinel chicken, and veterinary occurrences of WNV. The site also includes background information and tips on how to minimize exposure to WNV. Users may follow links to maps and data from previous years, as well as to a number of WNV-related sites from the USGS and CDC. [RS]
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BioMedNet: The Endocrine Society 2003 Meeting
BioMedNet presents this detailed report on the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, held recently in Philadelphia. Journalistic coverage of the event offers an engaging account of the "startling variety of research taking place under the endocrinology banner." Readers will find presentation summaries for each day of the 4-day event, as well as profiles of a few participating researchers. As the Web site describes: "From sex reversal in alligators to ongoing controversies on the subject of hormone replacement therapy, there really was something for everyone." Users must first complete a free registration with BioMedNet to view this site, which also includes links to related full-text articles published in various scientific journals (abstracts available for free). [RS]
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The National Academies Press: Review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Smallpox Vaccination Program
This electronic book from the National Academies Press (NAP) presents recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from the Committee on Smallpox Vaccination Program Implementation. The committee -- members of the Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine -- focuses on two main issues: Considerations for next steps in the pre-event vaccination program, and the smallpox components of the Continuation Guidance for the Cooperative Agreement on Public Health Preparedness and Response for Bioterrorism. The Web site includes an excellent search feature, which allows users to search for terms in each chapter, the entire book, or even the entire collection of online NAP publications. [RS]
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Economic Research Service Report: Manure Management for Water Quality [pdf]
This Web site contains a June 2003 report from the Economic Research Service of U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report offers a detailed analysis of livestock and poultry manure management for water quality in the U.S. The studies included in the report occur on multiple scales: 1) a farm-level analysis of "on-farm technical choice and producer costs" across the U.S., 2) a regional analysis of off-farm competition for land for the purposes of spreading surplus manure, and 3) a look at "potential long-term structural adjustments at the national level," including costs to consumers and producers. Users may download the entire report (about 1.6 MB) or selected chapters. The report also includes a nicely-presented 2-page research brief. [RS]
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BEAST: Bayesian Evolutionary Analysis Sampling Trees [Java]
This Web site presents a free downloadable program for "testing evolutionary hypotheses without conditioning on a single tree topology." Bayesian Evolutionary Analysis Sampling Trees, or BEAST, was created by Alexei Drummond and Andrew Rambaut of the Evolutionary Biology Group at the University of Oxford. The latest version (v1.0.2) is bug-free and ready for download. The Web site includes detailed information on what BEAST can do, and what researchers can expect to find in future versions of the program. [RS]
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Garden Butterflies Count
UK-based Butterfly Conservation presents the preliminary results of the Garden Butterfly Count (GBC), which enlisted the help of private residents to survey backyard butterflies and moths. Over 11,000 completed survey forms were returned to Butterfly Conservation at the end of the 2002 season, and the Web site provides a brief look at early results and analysis. The information is presented for a general audience, making this Web site an interesting stop for any reader. [RS]
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This Web site contains a searchable database of the fish collection at Yale's Peabody Museum. The collection includes over 100,000 primarily marine specimens representing species from around the world. Researchers may easily locate specimens of interest using the online catalog, searching by name, locality, or catalog number. In addition to the database, the Web site provides a detailed history of the museum's collection, which began in the 1860s. [RS]
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ExploreLearning: Photosynthesis [Macromedia Shockwave Player]
This Web site contains one of the latest "Gizmos" from ExploreLearning, a Virginia-based Web content creator "partnering with major publishers and educational companies to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn." ExploreLearning's Gizmos are interactive, multimedia simulations that "make difficult concepts easier to understand and fun to learn." The photosynthesis Gizmo helps middle school students explore photosynthetic processes by controlling carbon dioxide levels and light variables while measuring outputs from a virtual aquatic plant. The simulation includes a Progress Check, with which students and instructors can keep tabs on how well key concepts are understood during the exercise. If you have trouble accessing this site, start from the ExploreLearning homepage and follow links to the featured science Gizmos. The site requires free registration for use of the gizmos. [RS]
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Planet Slayer [Macromedia Flash Player]
The Australian Broadcasting Company offers a fun, interactive way to learn about environmentally responsible consumption. Visitors are invited to follow Greena, eco-chic Warrior Princess, as she navigates the world of green living. The Web site contains loads of engaging animated features, such as the Adventures of Greena, a cartoon in which Greena battles some environmental ill in each chapter. In the Planet Slayer Game, players choose to play earnestly as Greena and save the planet or ironically as a pink-swathed Barbie-like character to slay the planet. With the Greenhouse Calculator, users can figure out their toll on the planet in terms of carbon dioxide emissions -- a service you could find easily enough on the Web, but this one features exploding pigs. Lots of other great features are available, as is a set of well-selected links for more information on ethical investing, Kyoto Protocol, the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, and more. [RS]
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COOL Biology Projects: Gone Fishing [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]
The Coastal Ocean Observatory Laboratory (COOL) of Rutgers Marine and Coastal Sciences invites teachers and students to use the COOL Classroom, "a series of Internet-based instructional modules that link middle and high school classrooms with active research investigations" conducted by Rutgers scientists. In the "Gone Fishing" module, students explore the role of phytoplankton in the marine food web, and learn a lot about the experimental design in the process. A printable teacher's guide helps educators "capitalize on students' natural fascination with the marine environment to improve basic skills training, problem solving, and critical thinking skills." [RS]
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New York Times Daily Lesson Plan: Growing Pains
The New York Times Learning Network offers a recent Daily Lesson Plan titled Growing Pains: Assessing the Complexities of Plant Growth and Reproduction. The lesson plan is designed for grades 6-12 and contains three activities: 1) learning about plant anatomy using familiar food items, 2) reading and discussing a New York Times article about plant growth and reproduction, and 3) growing plants in the classroom to explore the factors affecting plant growth and reproduction. The Web site also includes a vocabulary list, assessment guidelines, extension activities, and useful references. [RS]
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Science Netlinks: Science Update about Nectarines [Real One Player]
In this Science Update lesson from Science Netlinks (American Association for the Advancement of Science) students get a modern-day example of Mendelian genetics with the example of the nectarine. Audio and a transcript of a Science Update radio spot introduces the research of a University of Florida horticulturist, who determined that a nectarine is actually a sort of mutated peach. An informative review of Mendelian genetics follows the story, and students can test their understanding of related concepts with the provided discussion questions. Additional resource, both print and online, are listed as well. [RS]
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American Museum of Natural History: Milstein Hall of Ocean Life [pdf]
This Web site is the online companion to the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The Educational Resources section provides links to dozens of AMNH activities and articles, mainly geared toward elementary school students. Also, the online guide to the exhibit is itself a terrific educational resource. For example, the Dioramas section offers great graphics and informative descriptions of ocean life and the terrestrial animals, like polar bears, that depend upon it. Likewise, users can take a virtual tour of the exhibit in the Ecosystems feature or click on Ocean Life to learn more about marine animals (and a few ancient bacteria). [RS]
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The University of California-Berkeley College of Natural Resources presents CityBugs, an excellent Web resource focused on the insects of the San Francisco Bay area. CityBugs provides a solid introduction to insects and insect collecting in Insect Basics, and an easy-to-use search feature makes identifying local bugs a snap. Visitors may also post questions to be answered by Berkeley entomologists, or browse the question and answer archives. The Teacher's Corner contains a number of lesson plans and activities designed for grades 6-12 for the most part, with a few geared toward younger students. In all, this nicely presented Web site could be a great addition to classroom material for students in the Bay area and beyond. [RS]
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Biology Teaching
The P.L. Duffy Resource Centre at Trinity College, Western Australia has launched this Web portal to biology teaching resources. While the set of links provided is not extensive, it does represent hundreds of biology lesson plans and other teaching materials from reliable sources. For instance, the portal lists the Smile Program Biology Index from the Illinois Institute of Technology, which provides nearly 200 single concept lessons spanning the life sciences. The P.L. Duffy Resource Centre also provides a number of other life science-related Web portals, including one specifically devoted to human biology. [RS]
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Andreas Vesalius: De Humani Corporis Fabrica [Macromedia Flash Player]
Northwestern University recently launched an online edition of On the Fabric of the Human Body, 16th century Europe's "most detailed and best illustrated atlas of the human body" produced by Andreas Vesalius, whose work changed the course of medical history. Daniel Garrison and Malcolm Hast, who have spent over a decade (and counting) translating the Fabrica, are making their work available online as the translation continues. Readers can now access an annotated translation of Book One -- including images -- with six more books to follow. The Web site also includes a useful glossary of medical terms. [RS]
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Life Changing Science [Macromedia Flash Player, Real One Player]
The Australian Broadcasting Company recently aired Life Changing Science, "a four-part series examining innovations that have transformed our lives." This companion Web site offers fantastic interactive features to go along with each of the four radio broadcasts. Three of the four interactive "labs" focused on the life sciences. They include Virtual Open Heart Surgery, in which users can conduct a highly simplified version of the real procedure; In Vitro Fertilization, which offers an excellent overview of the IVF cycle; and Food Preservation, in which users can test how well they know their kitchen microbes. These interactive features are truly cool, although American readers must contend with the metric units used in Food Preservation. The site also includes audio of the original radio programs, which aired in June 2003. [RS]
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Microbes -- Friend or Foe? [pdf, Real One Player]
This Web site contains the online companion to an episode of the PBS series, Closer to the Truth, which "brings together leading scientists, scholars and artists to debate latest discoveries and their impact on the human condition." Microbes -- Friend or Foe? offers a thought-provoking look at the role of microbes and the importance of "maintaining a microbial balance of power" on the planet. Visitors may download a transcript or view video clips of the episode, or delve deeper into the topic through online interviews with the program's panel of experts. The site also provides a useful glossary of key terms as defined by the episode's guest speakers -- some terms come with a video clip. [RS]
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NASA Earth Observatory: Global Garden Gets Greener [jpeg, tiff]
NASA's Earth Observatory is a "freely-accessible publication on the Internet where the public can obtain new satellite imagery and scientific information about our home planet." The Earth Observatory feature presented in this Web site introduces documented changes in plant productivity over the last two decades -- the warmest decades on record. The study, based on satellite imagery and ground observations, also demonstrates the most important of those factors influencing changes in plant productivity. Readers will find an informative overview of the study and terrific high-resolution images. [RS]
[Back to Contents] Cancer Updates, Research, and Education is the online version of CURE: Cancer Updates, Research & Education. CURE provides individuals coping with cancer and blood disorders with "scientific information in an easy-to-understand format," published quarterly by the Cancer Information Group. The Web site now features the 5th issue of CURE -- this and all previous issues are available free of charge. The current issue discusses new drugs for breast cancer treatment, music therapy, cancer and genomics, and other topics. The site also provides a useful search engine that allows readers to find all articles relating to a specific disease. [RS]
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USDA: Food, Family and Fun
This Web site comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, which "works to empower consumers with knowledge of the link between diet and health, providing dietary guidance based on research." Food, Family and Fun offers ideas for healthy, seasonal, and affordable meals to make at home with the help of kids. The site includes loads of nutrition information and easy-to-use recipes from some of the nation's top chefs. This site is also available in Spanish. [RS]
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Smithsonian Magazine: On the Trail of West Nile Virus [pdf]
The July 2003 issue of Smithsonian Magazine includes a feature article about the West Nile Virus. The article offers an in-depth look at the work of a group of scientists as they "race to develop vaccines against the scourge while others probe the possible lingering effects of the mosquito-borne infection." The 7-page articles may be downloaded free of charge. The site also includes links to related Smithsonian Magazine articles. [RS]
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The Sperm Whale Project
In 1988, the carcass of a sperm whale washed up on East Chugach Island in Alaska. To capitalize on this rare opportunity, the Pratt Museum created the Sperm Whale Project, designed to "promote ocean conservation through enhanced cross disciplinary marine science education" for residents and visitors to the Kachemak Bay area, where the museum is located. New to the Scout Report, the Sperm Whale Project Web site offers a fascinating look at the history of this project, from the discovery of the carcass to the preparation and articulation of its skeleton for display at the Pratt Museum, a process that enlisted the help of area high school students. Nicely presented and full of interesting photos, this Web site should be worth a visit from anyone interested in whales, skeletology, or museum science in general. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

1. The Cell Cycle
2. Biotiming Tutorial
3. BBC News: Women's Choice of Men Goes in Cycles
4. Monarch Watch: Biology
5. Schistosomiasis
6. Science News Online: Spring Forward: Warmer climates accelerate life cycles of plants, animals
7. The Lynx/Hare Cycle
8. Energy Cycle in Living Things
Just about anywhere you look in the natural sciences you'll find a cycle of some description. From cells to individuals to populations and beyond, cyclical patterns exist on every scale. The following collection of Web sites follows on this theme: The first site (1)is an excellent, animated introduction to the cell cycle from Cells Alive! Users can also get a closer look at the stages of mitosis by following the links provided. The next site from the Center for Biological Timing contains a tutorial on chronobiology, the study of biological rhythms (2). Visitors will find a thorough overview of the human clock and related concepts, with emphasis on our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Speaking of internal cycles, the next site contains an interesting article from BBC News, relating how a woman's choice of men may vary in accordance with her menstrual cycle (3). The next site moves from internal to externally-evident cycles, namely the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Monarch Watch provides a detailed description of the butterfly life cycle, from egg to larva to pupa to adult (4). Perhaps not quite as appealing as the monarch butterfly, but nevertheless intriguing, Schistosoma flatworms have a complicated life cycle involving humans and a particular group of snails. The University of California-Los Angeles Institute of the Environment offers an illustrated explanation of this highly specialized life cycle (5). The following site from Science New Online describes how global climate change is accelerating the annual life cycles of plants and animals around the world (6). On the level of population, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County offers the familiar example of the Canada lynx and the hare -- the same example used by countless textbooks to demonstrate the cyclical nature of predator-prey dynamics (7). And finally, Georgia State University provides a nicely simplified introduction to the energy cycle in living things, focusing on the transfer of energy from the sun to plants to animals. [RS]

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