The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 20

October 3, 2003

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




Topic In Depth


Infectious Diseases Gateway

BioMedNet (BMN) presents the Infectious Diseases Gateway "featuring expertly selected content from the leading publications in infectious diseases." Users will find research articles, reviews, and other resources from the Elsevier family of journals and books; all freely available to any reader (free registration required). The Web site also offers related BMN news features, links to other BMN Gateways, and a special supplement to the upcoming Interscience Conference of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. [RS]

Universal Chalcidoidea Database [pdf]

Chalcidoid wasps now have an excellent database all their own thanks to John Noyes of London's Natural History Museum. The Universal Chalcidoidea Database contains an extensive set of taxonomic and bibliographic records, as well as nearly 400 photos of living chalcidoids. Users will also find a key to chalcidoid families, information on collecting and preserving specimens, and a brief overview of this extremely diverse yet poorly understood group of wee wasps, which includes the world's smallest adult insect -- measuring in at a mere 0.11 mm. [RS], hosted by Steve Long, "provides bibliographic resources for scientific and medical research relating to seaslugs and their allies." Visitors will find loads of information and resources, including a literature search engine, taxonomic and bibliographic records, and links to thousands of photos from around the world. is appealingly informal, and includes links to similar Web sites for seaslugs, nudibranchs, and opistobranchs. [RS]

The Burke Museum Department & Collections

With this Web site, users may access free resources based on the nationally ranked collections of the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. Over 5 million specimens are to be found in four areas: anthropology, botany, geology, and zoology. Online resources linked to the zoology collections include a guide to the herpetofauna of Washington, two mammals databases, and a fun section on spider myths. Likewise, records from the Museum's botany collections, housed at the University of Washington Herbarium, may be perused using the WTU Herbarium Database. [RS]

Special Online Collection: The SARS Epidemic [pdf]

The journal Science offers this online collection of research articles and other resources on the SARS epidemic free of charge to any reader. The collection includes findings from the research team that first tracked down the wild animal hosts of the disease in China, as well as "a special News Focus of the roots of the SARS epidemic in China, and free access to previous Science research papers on the genomics, epidemiology, and structural biology of SARS." The collection also includes additional news and commentary for Science subscribers. [RS]

Ag BioTech InfoNet [pdf]

Ag BioTech InfoNet "covers all aspects of the application of biotechnology and genetic engineering in agricultural production and food processing and marketing." The Web site serves primarily as a portal to agricultural biotechnology content on the Internet, including scientific papers, news reports, and other resources. Ag BioTech InfoNet is maintained by Ecologic Inc., a research company specializing in the impacts of agriculture on food safety and the environment. [RS]

Singing Insects of North America [pdf, wav]

Even as a work in progress, this Web site should prove a tremendously useful resource for anyone interested in crickets, katydids, and cicadas of North America (minus Mexico). The site comes courtesy of entomologists Thomas Walker of the University of Florida and Thomas Moore of the University of Michigan, who have compiled an excellent collection of song samples and species accounts (including distribution maps, identification keys, photos and drawings, literature references, and so on). Professional research aside, amateur bug lovers will also enjoy exploring this Web site; the audio clips make it easy to identify backyard serenaders without having to collect a specimen. [RS]


MarineBio serves the marine biology research community with a number of online resources. Visitors are invited to "find out about new species, get involved in ocean conservation, explore dynamic research or marine life news" and to generally take part in MarineBio's "evolving tribute to all ocean life." MarineBio offers a number of message boards for keeping up-to-date with developments in the field. Many resources rely heavily on user input, such as the Web site's species inventory, which aims to be "the greatest source of the latest and most complete information about every marine plant and animal species online." MarineBio is a nonprofit project developed and maintained by marine biology researchers, Web designers, writers, and other professionals dedicated promoting marine biology and protecting marine resources. [RS]

Education Adapting to the World [pdf] presents this lesson plan based on Adapting to the World, a Discovery Channel documentary that includes a segment on the domestication of dogs. Designed for grades 6-8, the lesson covers the evolution of dogs from wolves and the creation of specific breeds for specific tasks. The lesson plan works quite well without viewing the program, thanks to well-outlined activities and substantial set of print and online resources. The Web site also includes a helpful glossary and ideas for extension activities based on other segments from Adapting to the World. [RS]

Virtual Biology Labs [QuickTime]

This Rutgers University Web site contains a set of online biology labs each so detailed and comprehensive, they could nearly replace the real thing. Each virtual lab contains pages and pages of background information and procedures, helpful images and diagrams, online exercises, and more. Seven labs are currently available: Cell Structure, Cell Reproduction, Protists, Plant Evolution, Angiosperm Reproduction, Transport Systems in Plants, and Chromosome Structure and Meiosis. [RS]

Marine Biodiversity Activity Resource Guide for Teachers

The Marine Biodiversity Activity Resource Guide for Teachers comes from OceanLink, a Web-based feature created by the publication department of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre in British Columbia. The Resource Guide contains two lesson plans, extension ideas, and loads of background information on marine biodiversity. No specific grade levels are indicated for the lesson plans, but their flexible, open-ended format should be suitable for a range of grades. [RS]

Medical Mysteries [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]

Rice University presents Medical Mysteries (or MedMyst for short) "an Internet-based which you are on a mission to discover the causes of diseases." Designed for middle and high school students, MedMyst offers an engaging, multimedia approach to learning about infectious diseases and the immune system, as well as pharmacology, chemistry, public health policy, and more. MedMyst also includes three downloadable mini-labs that expand on concepts covered in the multimedia adventure. The Web site also includes loads of useful links. [RS]

Inside the Human Body: The Respiratory System [pdf]

This Web site from the Canadian Lung Association contains an excellent collection of learning resources about the respiratory system for grades 1-12. Content varies according to grade range; for instance, the section for grades 1-3 covers basics of lungs and their function with an illustrated story, coloring book, interactive games, and downloadable worksheets. Older students focus in on smoking, air pollution, and other issues in addition to covering respiratory system biology. As with the section for grades 1-3, resources for older students include loads of extras, such as word games and online quizzes. The site also offers a helpful teachers' guide. [RS]

A Guided Tour of the Visible Human

The MadSci Network, offered through Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, offers a fascinating tour of the human body using digitized images generated by the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project. The tour begins with an introduction to the different planes of section, and offers tips on getting a 3D sense of structures from 2D cross sections. The tour continues with the digitized images, thoughtfully accompanied by descriptive details (click on a structure for these "interactive annotations." [RS]

Contrasts in Blue: Life on the Caribbean Coral Reef and Rocky Coast of Maine [pdf]

From the recently launched Web site comes an excellent set of learning resources based on Exploring Marine Ecosystems, a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The activities and lesson plans in Contrasts in Blue help students explore two distinctively different marine ecosystems: the Caribbean coral reef and the rocky coast of Maine. The Web site provides a detailed introduction complete with hypertext links for exploring specific concepts in more detail. The lesson plans "encourage students to consider the role of temperature, sunlight, waves, and tides in the creation of unique marine environments," and include downloadable worksheets. [RS]

Addressing Harmful Environmental Behaviors [pdf]

In this AskERIC lesson plan asks 4th and 5th graders to brainstorm behaviors they've seen that are harmful to the environment. Students then "create pictures and write short paragraphs illustrating and describing the behavior and ways to accomplish the same behavior without harming the environment." The lesson requires one class period to compete, and comes with a downloadable "post-activity handout" to help with assessment. [RS]



Health Matters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's online gateway to health issues, presents this in-depth feature on infertility. Readers will find a detailed introduction to "the different kinds of infertility, what can be done, the costs involved, and the tricky ethical and legal issues that can crop up." The feature also includes a number of useful links, recommended reading, and an indispensable glossary of terms. [RS]

Wildwatch: African Wildlife & Conservation

"Wildwatch is an online publication created by CC Africa (Conservation Corporation Africa), one of Africa's most comprehensive eco-tourism companies." Visitors will find a number of interesting and informative features, such as CC Africa's monthly magazine and details of the company's six-point conservation and sustainable development model. Other items include first-hand accounts of wildlife sightings and an excellent image gallery. Some of the Web site is devoted to CC Africa's commercial ventures, but this does not detract from the overall focus on conservation and public education. [RS]

Seaside Live: Marine Ecology and Related Issues [Cult 3D]

Seaside Live comes from the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, and offers a number of fun and informative features on marine ecosystems. Visitors will find an introduction to the coastal habitats of Atlantic Canada, a photo essay on marine environmental issues, and an online field guide to coastal wildlife -- complete with a handy identification key. Visitors may also virtually "explore a coastal creature without getting your hands wet" with 3D Creatures (link to required plug-in provided). Seaside Live is also available in French. [RS]

NATURE: The Living Edens: The Lost World [Real One Player]

This Web site contains an online companion from the NATURE documentary The Living Edens: The Lost World, which aired on PBS. The program explored the ancient tepuis of Venezuela, a remote, little-explored pocket of the world "hailed as the land that time forgot." Web visitors can do a little exploring themselves with a number of multimedia features, including a great photo essay, a video clip from the program, an online photo gallery, and an interactive adventure (Eco-explorer). Visitors will also find related links and suggested book titles. [RS]

Saving Africa's Eden [jpeg, Real One Player, Windows Media Player]

This National Geographic Web site contains an online, multimedia supplement to a feature article from the September 2003 issue of the magazine, which takes an in-depth look at the prospect of setting aside an amazing 11% of Gabon's intact wilderness for conservation and ecotourism. The Web site includes an excerpt from the print article, but extra Web features are the real attraction. Visitors will find an online-only photo gallery, field notes from photographer Michael Nichols, and a handful of other cool features like the video clip featuring ecologist Mike Fay as he treks through Gabon's virtually unexplored wilderness. [RS]

The California Academy of Science Presents the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land

The California Academy of Sciences recently opened a new exhibit: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land. The exhibit feature 49 striking photographs from physicist-turned-photographer Subhankar Banerjee, who has created a spectacular, four-season "tour of endangered wildlife, tremendous terrain, otherworldly skyscapes, and isolated Inuit villages." Visitors may view the collection, complete with informative descriptions written by Banerjee. The Web site also provides a number of links for more information on ANWR. [RS]

The Conservatory of Flowers

San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park has recently reopened to the public after a year of renovation to repair damage from a devastating windstorm in 1995. The Conservatory's attractive Web site offers a virtual tour, highlighting the Conservatory's "dramatic new exhibits and horticultural displays." Visitors can also learn more about featured plants (palms, at the moment), check out an online photo gallery, and learn all about the restoration of Conservatory buildings and displays. [RS]

Natural Resources Defense Council -- The Boreal Forest: Earth's Green Crown

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) presents "The Boreal Forest: Earth's Green Crown;" a 12-page photo essay featuring Canada's vast tract of boreal forest, one of the world's largest and amazingly intact forest ecosystems. The photo essay offers an in-depth look at these forests, including an overview of environmental threats posed by industrial development (mining, oil and gas, timber, hydropower, etc.). NRDC also provides numerous links for learning more about boreal forests, and readers are invited to participate in online campaigns to protect them. [RS]

Topic In Depth

Artificial Coral Reefs

1. War Wrecks of the Coral Seas [Real One Player]
2. NOAA Photo Library: The Coral Kingdom
3. Blue Planet Challenge: Webs of Life [Macromedia Flash Player]
4. Subway Reef {Real One Player]
5. Artificial Reefs of the Keys [Java]
6. California Wild: Rockfish to Rigfish
7. New Jersey Scuba Diver: Survival of the Fittest on an Artificial Reef
8. New England Artificial Reef Society: Web Links
Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet...and the most threatened. Artificial reefs may help stem the loss of these valuable and beautiful habitats, with shipwrecks, old subway cars, and other structures taking the place of living coral or rocky outcrops. The following Web sites introduce artificial reefs, reef ecology, and some ongoing efforts to establish reef communities in the U.S. and beyond. PBS's NATURE offers a fascinating look at the artificial reefs created by the thousands of shipwrecks and downed planes from World War II that riddle the South Pacific (1). This is the companion Web site to the documentary War Wrecks of the Coral Seas, and it includes some great multimedia features. The next site comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and contains an excellent photo gallery of coral ecosystems around the world (2). The collection includes six pages of artificial reef photos taken in the Pacific. The following site comes from the online companion to the BBC's acclaimed documentary series The Blue Planet. Based on the episode The Web of Life, this site offers a fun, multimedia challenge for learning about and testing one's knowledge of coral reefs (3). The site includes a section on artificial reefs (click on Take it Further). Next, an August 2001 segment from National Public Radio's All Things Considered explores efforts to create artificial reefs using decommissioned New York City subway cars -- a project of Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in the Division of Fish and Wildlife (4). Likewise, the non-profit group Artificial Reefs of the Keys is working to bring a de-commissioned military ship to the Florida Keys (5). The New Jersey Scuba Diver Web site provides an excellent introduction to artificial reef ecology; focused on reefs in New Jersey, of course. The mini-tutorial comes courtesy of William Figly, Principal Fisheries Biologist for the New Jersey Artificial Reef Program (6). The Fall 2001 issue of California Wild, the magazine of the California Academy of Sciences, addresses the benefits and concerns of off shore oil rigs becoming artificial reefs (7). Finally, visitors will find dozens of news articles and Web links related to artificial reefs in this entry, a page from the New England Artificial Reef Society Web site (8). [RS]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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