The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 2

January 23, 2004

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

A Note to our Readers




Topic In Depth

A Note to our Readers

We Need Your Feedback -- Please Take a Brief Online Survey

The Internet Scout Project is gathering feedback from librarians, educators, and others about their experiences using open source digital library software to build and manage online collections. Data from this survey will be used to help develop strategies to better facilitate collaboration between open source software developers and the library and education communities. (Open source software is generally free, and can be modified by those using it -- the underlying program code is available to the user, unlike proprietary software.) Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. If you have questions or concerns please don't hesitate to email us at

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NOTE: You may have seen this note in last week's Reports. Due to a formatting error on our part, those subscribers to the text version of the Reports could not see or access the survey URL. We apologize for any inconvenience; please feel free to take part this week.


California Academy of Sciences: AntWeb

AntWeb, an excellent service of the California Academy of Sciences, provides users with "tools for exploring the diversity and identification of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). These tools have been developed to facilitate the use of ants in inventory and monitoring programs and provide ant taxonomists with images and types." At present, AntWeb offers information on all ant genera worldwide as well as highlighting ants of Madagascar and California in particular. The site provides a search engine for the comprehensive AntWeb database which contains images of, and information about, ants from all over the world. AntWeb also offers an awesome World Ants Slide Show which includes Head, Profile, and Dorsal Views of many ants. [NL]

UCMP -- Paleobotany Collection: Catalogs and Information

This first-rate Paleobotany Collection website is hosted by University of California, Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology. The site offers an on-line catalog that "contains information on over 22,000 specimens of fossil plants, algae, and fungi catalogued through 2002." Some of the Specimen Data Fields include Specimen Number, Taxon Info, Citation Info, Type Info, Element, and Locality Info. Many of the UCMP's "collections are not duplicated by holdings in other institutions and come from sites no longer accessible to collectors." The site offers links to other Botanical, Paleontological, Phycological, and Mycological catalogues as well as to other UCMP collections such as Vertebrates, Invertebrates, and Microfossils. [NL]

Eurodino Database Project [Macromedia Flash Player]

Hosted by DinoData, The Eurodino Database Project was developed by paleontologist Octavio Mateus as a service for the European paleontological community. The database is designed to inform professional and amateur paleontologists of the locations of "originals or casts of each dinosaur in each museum in Europe." The database provides several mechanisms to search for dinosaur fossils and museums and allows users to search for fossils alphabetically and through categories such as Eggs, Footprints, Skin, and Coprolites. Additionally, users can search for museums by perusing the comprehensive European museum list or by selecting a specific country. [NL]

Missouri Botanical Garden: Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador [pdf]

A collaborative project of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, the Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, and Aarhus University, this Internet version of the Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador "is designed to give users an overview of the plant species found in Ecuador and allows them to easily navigate and browse the information currently available." The Catalogue "documents 15,901 plant species known to occur in Ecuador" and the site's Search Engine allows users to access data by scientific name or by using either the index to accepted names or the index to all names. This fantastic site also includes links to relevant information about Ecuador such as Geography, Paleoclimates, Vegetation, and History of Collecting. The website is available in Spanish as well as English. [NL]

U.S. EPA: Science Inventory

The U.S. EPA's Science Inventory is "a searchable, Agency-wide catalog of more than 4,000 science activities such as research, technical assistance and assessments, along with more than 750 peer-reviewed products. The database contains more that 19,000 records in the archives including project descriptions, products produced, types of peer review, links to related work and contacts for additional information." This site provides a search engine whereby topics can be accessed using keywords. Additionally, searches can be further focused by selecting one or more cross-cutting Topics such as Genomics, Children's Health, Environmental Justice, and Tribal Science. This site also links to an extensive glossary and to a neat feature entitled, Where You Live, which allows users to access information about scientific studies in their area. [NL]

Census of Marine Life: Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life

A field project of the multi-national Census of Marine Life, the Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life (CeDAMar) was created to document "actual species diversity of abyssal plains as a basis for global change research and for a better understanding of historical causes and actual ecological factors regulating biodiversity." This site provides Deep-Sea researchers with a forum for discussion and information-sharing. Specifically, this forum allows "researchers to exchange experiences and results from the Projects united under the umbrella of CeDAMar." Additionally, this site links to relevant Projects, Articles, News, FAQ, and Web links, and provides a search engine for locating specific information about CeDAMar. [NL]


A Look Inside The Human Body Website

Australian educator Andrew McGann created this excellent human anatomy website to help children learn about different functions of the human body. The site is nicely designed with seven different body types-including men, women, and children-lined up to highlight and provide links to the Skeletal, Muscular, Circulatory, Immune, Nervous, Digestive, and Respiratory Systems. Each Body System page provides illustrated diagrams with labels, information, and a fun Amazing Facts link pertaining to that System. Additionally, each System page links to an information page about the Senses. [NL]

Coquitlam's Elementary Technology Integration Portal -- Annual Plant Life Cycle

This website was created by e-tip, "a WebQuest based resource developed, designed, and created by a group of teachers from the Coquitlam School District (SD43) in British Columbia, Canada." The lesson at this site was designed to help teach kindergarten and first grade students about the annual plant life cycles. Through this simple lesson, students "learn that annual plants grow, make flowers, fruit and seed, and then die, all in one growing season." The lesson includes brief Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, Conclusion, and Credits sections as well as a student page for the activity. One of the coolest features at the site is The Great Plant Glossary which provides links to kid-friendly definitions for words like bulb, loam, rhizome, and sepal. The mechanism that closes The Great Plant Glossary does not seem to be functioning, but users can easily return to the main site by using the back function on their browser's navigation bar. [NL]

Natural Perspective: The Fungus Kingdom

This well-crafted website on The Fungus Kingdom was created by Ari and Susan Kornfeld, long-time naturalists and presently students at Humboldt State University. Their website provides a good overview of The Fungus Kingdom, and would be useful to educators introducing students to Fungi or to anyone interested in learning about the fascinating world of Fungi. In addition to providing concise information about Fungi, this site contains outstanding photos, an Annotated Bibliography, and links to feature sites for Sac Fungi, Lichens, and certain Club Fungi. This Fungus Kingdom site is part of a larger website entitled Natural Perspective, created by the same authors, that offers sites about other Kingdoms as well. [NL]

Desert USA: Desert Animals and Wildlife

This great educational website about Desert Animals and Wildlife was created by DesertUSA, a publication designed to explore and educate about "the beauty, life, and culture of North American deserts." The Desert Animals and Wildlife homepage contains extensive lists of links to sites for different Mammals, Birds and Fish, Reptiles and Amphibians, and Insects and Spiders. The animal link selections include the Mexican Gray Wolf, Desert Pupfish, Desert Iguana, and Finback Whale just to name a few. The specific animal pages include photos and information categorized in areas such as Distribution, Habitat, Description, and Life Cycle. There is a feature link to a webpage on Desert Animal Survival, a list of links to relevant DesertUSA Articles and Information, and links to websites dedicated to other DesertUSA subjects such as Plants / Wildflowers, and Peoples and Cultures.

Science Friday Kid's Connection: Bacteria -- Mighty Microbes [RealOne Player]

This Science Friday Kid's Connection: Bacteria-Mighty Microbes website is a great educational resource for middle school teachers. The program was developed in correlation with NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday program. The website begins with a short but enticing introduction to the amazing world of Bacteria and is followed by a good mixture of resources for designing a Bacteria curriculum. Two notable areas are the Activities section which provides numerous links to quality educational Bacteria / Microbiological websites, and the Academic Content Standards section for Grades 6-8 that supplies specific standards and benchmarks for Bacteria lessons. The site also allows users to listen to the radio program and provides a free player download for those lacking the necessary software. [NL]

ThinkQuest: Nutrition for Kids

A ThinkQuest international competition winner, Nutrition for Kids was created by a team of three fifth grade students to educate children about good nutrition. The website offers basic, straightforward information about nutrition in a variety of formats including a chart on Nutrients and their Functions, a diagram of the Food Pyramid, Sample Menus, and a section entitled, Foods You Should Eat. The site also offers a few References and nutrition-related websites as well as a short feature on English Foods. After studying the nutrition information at this website, visitors can test their knowledge by taking a brief Quiz. [NL]


The Leakey Foundation [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Leakey Foundation is "a member supported organization committed to research related to human origins." This well-designed, interactive website offers a variety of information related to the research interests including information about Recently Funded Projects, Educational Resources, and News and Upcoming Events. One exceptional feature of the website is the Audio Archives that allows visitors to listen to recorded excerpts from interviews with, and lectures by, renowned scientists like Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, Margaret Mead, and Mary Leakey. The Educational Resources section also offers great features including an extensive Bibliography, Recommended Links to other quality websites, a Visual Glossary, and an Ask A Scientist service whereby users can email questions to the Leakey Foundation. This website artfully integrates good photos of past and present with text sections and also contains biographies of the Leakey Family. [NL]

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Living Fossils of the Deep

Hosted by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, this website reports on a Smithsonian expedition that explored the Bahamian Seafloor. The expedition brought together a research team of scientists who collaborated "on a number of projects exploring both the present and the past through the natural history of deep-sea organisms and microorganisms." The website includes an overview of the expedition, short bios for the participating scientists, and a feature section on the remarkable Slitsnail Gastropods. The site also offers a small annotated Photo Gallery of Images from the Sea Floor, and a brief geographical section on the Bahamas that touches on some human and natural history. A final gem of this website is the Dispatches from the Ship section which shares several expedition stories. [NL]

NPR: Early Mammal Ancestor Discovered [RealOne Player]

This website hosts an NPR feature from April 24, 2002 reporting on the discovery of an early mammal ancestor, called Eomaia. The report tells the story of the amazing fossil that was discovered in the Yixian Formation located in northeastern China, where feathered dinosaur, plant, insect, and other early mammal fossils have been found. The Chipmunk-sized Eomaia lived 125 million years ago making it "the earliest known ancestor of placental mammals, a group that includes humans." The site links to a good, clear photo of the fossil, a map showing the location of the Eomaia Fossil Site, an Art Reconstruction of Eomaia, and an expanded evolutionary timetable. There are links to related Resources, and site visitors with RealOne Players can listen to Richard Harris' report on this discovery. [NL]

Mesa Community College: Skeletal Explorer [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Skeletal Explorer website is part of the Class Web Materials for Mesa Community College's Anthropology Department. This well-designed, creative site opens with an image of a baseball cap-wearing skeleton viewing skeletal images on a computer screen. The Main Menu offers a Skeletal Overview and eight more sections including Crania, Axial Skeleton, Appendicular Skeleton, and Bone Growth. Each section is nicely organized with multiple subsections, clear, concise information, and many great photos and illustrations. Most of the sections also contain fun, interactive Self-Tests. [NL]

Pete and Barb's Penguin Pages

This outstanding, comprehensive website was created by two amateur British penguinologists who have a longstanding interest in penguins and have seen all 17 species in the wild. Pete and Barb's Penguin Pages website contains "more than 150 information pages and 250 photographs." Their site is well-organized and includes an index that lays out the main page and subsections. The main sections include Factual Pages (biological and environmental information about penguins), The Rookery (links to good penguin sites), For Teachers (penguin educational ideas and resources), and a Photo Index (Clickable thumbnails of penguin photos arranged by species). Pete and Barb recommend an up-to-date browser for their site however they do offer a previous, non up-dated version of the site with fewer graphics for those with older browsers. [NL]

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research: Life in the dark: plant growth beneath sea ice [pdf]

This article about plant growth beneath sea ice by Anne-Maree Shwarz appears in Water and Atmosphere online, a quarterly publication of the New Zealand-based National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Shwarz's "article describes some of the linkages between ice-cover, underwater light and primary production that have been investigated" by ICECUBE, a NIWA research program working to "determine relationships between sea ice and the composition and functioning of benthic communities." Amazingly, as this article describes in greater detail, enough nutrients and light are available under the sea-ice to allow "the growth of high concentrations of micro-algae." This webpage also links to other Water and Atmosphere online articles which include topics such as Ministry of Fisheries Antarctic research and Assessing biodiversity on the Antarctic sea floor. For New Zealand educators this webpage links to Teacher Resources: Curriculum Connections, a page that "relates articles in recent issues of Water and Atmosphere online to the NZ Curriculum and the NCES Achievement Standards." [NL]

Topic In Depth

Winter World Explorations

1. Princeton University: OA Guide to Winter Camping [pdf]
2. Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia [Macromedia Flash Player]
3. Snow School
4. Minnesota DNR: Winter bird feeding tips
5. Native Conifers of North America
6. Winter Nutrition: Tips for People Who Exercise in the Cold
7. University of Michigan Health System-Cancer Nutrition Services: Recipes of the Month-Hearty Winter Stew
8. The Ohio State University Extension-Family Nutrition Program Newsletter: January is National Soup Month.

Cold winter weather can cause us to retreat into our indoor shells biding our time until the warmer days return. However, there is much to explore outside during the wintertime and the following sites share some important reasons and cautionary tips for Winter World Explorations. The first website, Princeton University's Outdoor Action Guide to Winter Camping by Rick Curtis, provides a thorough overview of Winter Camping including sections on Winter Travel, Snowshoeing Basics, Winter Water, and more. This site also provides links to OA Guides for Winter Shelters, and Hypothermia and Cold Injuries (1). The second site, from the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia deals specifically with Hypothermia including useful information on Physiology, Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Considerations (2). The third website, SnowSchool, is an innovative educational field program designed for 4th and 5th graders where "kids venture out into America's winter wildlands to discover all the living creatures under the snow." SnowSchool is a program of Winter Wildlands Alliance and "the nation's largest on-snow winter ecology education program" with 27 sites across the United States (3). The fourth website from the Minnesota DNR is a feature on Winter Bird Feeding which includes specific information about Winter Foods, Seeds and Mixes, Suet, Feeders, and Winter Feeder Layout (4). The fifth website, The Native Conifers of North America, is an excellent and very comprehensive online introduction and field guide to conifer species native to North America. The site includes A Key to the Genera and Species, sections on Selected Conifers from Different Parts of North America, and many beautiful photographs and line drawings (5). The sixth website (6) hosts an article on Winter Nutrition: Tips for people who exercise in the cold by nutrition counselor Nancy Clark, MS, RD. In her article, Ms. Clark answers common winter exercise questions like Why do I shiver when I get cold?, and Why do I feel hungrier in the winter than in the summer? Speaking of being hungrier in the winter, the final two websites offer recipes for winter stews and soups, a perfect way to end a day of winter exploring. One website offers a Hearty Winter Stew recipe from the University of Michigan Health System-Nutrition Services (7}. The other website, from The Ohio State University Extension -- Family Nutrition Program Newsletter tells us that January is National Soup Month, and offers recipes for stews, soups, and even instructions for bread soup bowls (8). [NL]

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