The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 4

February 20, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


GOLD Genomes OnLine Database

Free for academic and non-commercial use, the Genomes OnLine Database (GOLD) is an internet "resource for comprehensive access to information regarding complete and ongoing genome projects around the world. GOLD provides the largest available and most detailed monitoring of genome sequencing projects." This recently updated database presently contains 173 Published Complete Genomes (including 4 chromosomes, 445 Prokaryotic Ongoing Genomes, and 384 Eukaryotic Ongoing Genomes (including 8 chromosomes). The GOLD search engine allows users to search by Domain, Status, Institution, Phylogeny, and more. This site also contains GOLD-specific Links, related Other Links, and links to References, Statistics, and GOLD News. [NL]

European Commission-MICROMAT: Biodiversity of Microbial Mats in Antarctica

MICROMAT, supported by the European Commission, "is an academic industrial partnership which aims to improve knowledge of the biodiversity of bacteria, protests, and fungi in Antarctic microbial mats and to test this biodiversity for novel compounds of potential biotechnological use." This MICROMAT website provides links to a summary of the project with listed objectives, relevant Publications, and a map of the area locating and briefly describing the field sites. Of particular interest to researchers are additional links providing access to Project Updates including Main Achievements and Major Scientific Breakthroughs, and names of project Participants with email contact information. The site also includes a short list of relevant sites and links. [NL]

Oregon State University Herbarium: Vascular Plants Database

Representing the collections of the Oregon State University Herbarium, the Vascular Plants database "provides access to all known vascular plant holotypes (ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms) and isotypes..." all within three herbaria housed at Oregon State University, University of Oregon, and Willamette University. Although the Herbarium collections have a "strong emphasis on the state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest" their scope is worldwide. The database search engine provides ten fields with pull-down menus including Genus, Species, Authority, County, and more. Furthermore, "searches can be conducted by both basionyms (the original published name) and current names (i.e., the most recent annotation of the type specimen)." Searchers can retrieve from 10 to 5,000 Records/Page. [NL]

Georgetown University Medical Center, iProClass: An Integrated Protein Classification Database

iProClass, a database developed by the Protein Information Resource at Georgetown University Medical Center "is an integrated resource that provides comprehensive family relationships and structural/functional features of proteins." Currently iProClass "consists of non-redundant PIR and SwissProt/TrEMBL proteins organized with more than 36,300 PIR superfamilies, 145,300 families, 7310 domains, 1300 motifs, 280 post-transitional modification sites, and links to over 50 biological databases." Specialized search engines provided at this site include Text Search, BLAST Sequence Search, and Peptide Match. This website links to informative sections about the database including Major Features, Database Access and Usage, Publications, and more. [NL]

Baylor College of Medicine: The Dictyostelium Genome Sequencing Project [QuickTime, pdf, StuffIt Expander]

This website presents the Baylor College of Medicine Dictostelium Genome Sequencing Project. The site provides general background information about the project and the Dictyostelium Genome, however researchers will likely find the Tools for Scientists section of most use. This section includes several links devoted to: Mapping Information, Data Release, and a Preliminary Directory of Dictyostelium Genes version 3(UCSD). Additionally, researchers can link to an overview of Extrachromosomal Elements as well as perform a database search with SDSC Dicty BLAST. This site also provides several links to Other Sequencing Resources and External Sequence Analysis sites. [NL]

Forest Herbarium: A Bibliography of Taxonomic Revisions for Vascular Plants in Thailand

Of great use to botanists interested in the flora of Thailand, this website features A Bibliography of Taxonomic Revisions for Vascular Plants in Thailand, compiled by the Forest Herbarium of Thailand. "This bibliography is an up to date compilation regrouping more than 2,500 references of monographs, taxonomic revisions or identification keys of vascular plants found in Thailand." Pteridophytes are listed alphabetically by genera, whereas angiosperms and gymnosperms are listed alphabetically first by families, and then by genera. The bibliography focuses on more "recent works, therefore the vast majority of entries refer to articles from the last fifteen years." [NL]

Okhotskia: International Sakhalin Island Project

This website presents the International Sakhalin Island Project (ISIP), "an international collaboration of American, Russian, and Japanese scientists to survey the plants, insects, spiders, freshwater and terrestrial mollusks, freshwater fishes, amphibians, and reptiles of the Sakhalin Island." The website was developed primarily "to provide easy access to project results and databases, both for participants and other interested scientists." Site visitors can link to the project proposal -- submitted by the University of Washington, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Hokkaido University -- to view text and images describing project Objectives, Rationale and Scope, Anticipated Future Research, and more. Links to project Results are also provided (including ISIP databases, publications, and presentations) and Island Info including sections on Vascular Plants, Stoneflies, Nesting Birds, and many more. Additionally, a very nicely organized photo gallery features maps and many beautiful photographs taken by project participants during collecting expeditions to the island. [NL]

Missouri Botanical Garden: the Moss Flora of Thailand

This Annotated Checklist and Atlas of the Mosses of Thailand is yet another great research website from the Missouri Botanical Garden. This site "provides up-to-date nomenclature for all published names of Thai mosses through 1996. All accepted taxa are provided with information on synonyms, illustrations, habitats,..." and distribution. Additionally, simple maps show the provincial distribution for each accepted species. Featured links in the Table of Contents include A Complete Catalogue of Thai Mosses, Systematic Arrangement of Genera, A List of Accepted Species, Literature Cited, and more. [NL]


National Wildlife Federation: Campus Ecology [pdf]

This website features the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program. This program was established over a decade ago to "assist students, faculty, staff, and administrators in transforming colleges and universities into learning and teaching models of environmental sustainability(...)" and has supported 2,000 campus projects nation-wide. Each year more than 100 schools enroll in the Campus Ecology program and the website provides information about resources, training sessions, internships, and fellowships. This site also links to a well-organized Greening Projects section which encourages site visitors to peruse Campus Ecology projects from past years in categories such as Composting, Environmental Literacy, Landscaping, and Water. [NL]

Bagheera In the Wild: Classroom

This site is part a larger Bagheera website created by long-time journalist and conservationist Craig Kasnoff to educate people about, and support activism for, endangered species issues. The Classroom site features an Activities section which provides many short activity ideas under headings like Use Your Imagination, and Inquire, Analyze and Compare. In addition to general activities for endangered species issues, Kasnoff provides a section on Activities Directed at Particular Species in the Case Studies. This site also includes a bibliography, glossary of related terms, and information about "problems facing endangered animals and what can be done to improve their chances of survival." Links are provided to other great sections of the In the Wild site as well, including information about extinct animals, animals facing extinction, and a Spotlight on important issues regarding endangered animals. [NL]

NC State University-Science Junction: The Brine Shrimp Project [pdf]

Hosted by NCSU Science Junction, this website contains The Brine Shrimp Project, a lesson plan created by educator April J. Cleveland. The goal of this project is for students to "design and conduct a laboratory investigation to determine how different factors may affect the hatching and development of brine shrimp eggs." Although it was "field tested with 10th grade biology students," this project is adaptable for use with elementary, middle, and high school students, and furthermore "supports the National Science Content Standards A and C for grades" K-12. The website clearly outlines the 7-day project including instructions, work sheets for students, and a comprehensive evaluation sheet. [NL]

Science Friday Kid's Connection: Animal Communication [RealOne Player]

This Science Friday Kid's Connection: Animal Communication website (January 16, 2004), developed as an educational component for NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday radio program, provides quality resources for middle school teachers. The site focuses on ape and monkey communication, and provides numerous links to related educational websites. The site also contains an Academic Content Standards section for Grades 6-8 that supplies specific standards and benchmarks for various animal communication lessons. Additionally, the website offers access to the original radio program which included guests like Marc Hauser, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Mind / Brain / Behavior Program at Harvard University. [NL]

UC Museum of Paleontology-Berkeley: Vertebrate Flight Exhibit

This website features the UC Museum of Paleontology Vertebrate Flight Exhibit created by John R. Hutchinson, a graduate student in Dr. Kevin Padian's lab at UC-Berkeley. This site serves as a great introduction for teachers and students interested in the natural history, mechanics, or other aspects of vertebrate flight. The exhibit works like a tutorial organized under the heading: Learn the Secrets of Flight. Each section flows from one to the next, beginning with the Introduction of Flight, and including other sections like The Physics of Flight, The Evolution of Flight, and more. The sections are fairly concise and brief, but include links for key terms to more information located at other museum sites. A strong finish, the final flight section includes sub-sections on Pterosaurian, Avian, and Chiropteran Flight accompanied by illustrated diagrams and other images. [NL]

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger is "an international classroom for exploring the problems of hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity." Offered in eight languages, the website offers numerous resources for educators, providing adaptable lessons designed to introduce primary, intermediate, and secondary level students to world hunger issues. "Each lesson contains Objectives, Concepts and Activities to engage...students in a discussion about these serious and persistent problems." This site features an interactive forum allowing educators to share ideas and experiences from all over the world. The Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger website also provides a list of related links and information about activities in different countries. [NL]

Smithsonian Natural Partners Initiative: Seeds of Change Garden

This excellent archived website from the Smithsonian "teaches about diversity and history by looking at the evolution of agriculture and cuisine throughout the world. It is designed so that it can be browsed for enjoyment and exploration, or to provide a basis for more in-depth classroom or home activities..." The site links to creative and informative sections under the titles of History, Garden, Learning, and Recipes. The Garden and Learning sites both provide educational activities exploring gardening, cultural diversity, and more. The site also includes seed ordering information, a bibliography, and a page for teachers and parents. [NL]

University of Arizona Center for Insect Science Education Outreach: Using Live Insects in Elementary Classrooms For Early Lessons in Life

This comprehensive website from the University of Arizona Center for Insect Science prepares K-3rd grade teachers for classroom lessons using live insects. The site provides twenty lesson plans that include math and science activities and follow National Science Education Standards. "Roughly two hundred teachers in Arizona, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Mississippi pilot tested the lessons in their classrooms." The site also supplies teachers with information sheets for different insects, and rearing sheets that provide instructions for insect care and collection. In addition, the website includes a bibliography that serves as "a complete reference source for all of the lesson plans." [NL]


Nearctica: The Wildflowers of Eastern North America

This outstanding website was created by Dr. Robert W. Poole of Nearctica, an organization devoted to connecting the internet public to high-quality natural sciences websites. This website "covers between 1100 and 1200 species of wildflowers from northeastern North America and the east-central United States." Artful illustrations and photographs are provided for each wildflower species as well as short text descriptions including Identification, Habitat, Flowering Period, and more. Links allow users to search for flowers by Family, Genus, and Species, or by Common or Scientific Name. Additionally, site visitors can peruse a wildflower gallery showcasing many beautiful photos. [NL]

PBS-Nova: Secrets of the Crocodile Caves [QuickTime, Macromedia Flash Player]

Did you know that some crocodiles live in caves? Secrets of the Crocodile Caves, a PBS-Nova website designed in tandem with a Nova television feature, explores the world of Madagascar's cave-dwelling crocodiles. This site offers a short Slide Show with photos of the beautiful Ankarana region of Madagascar accompanied by cool 360-degree panorama shots with zoom-in / zoom-out features. The site links to interactive features as well including a "clickable map to find out about the 23 species of crocodilians around the world" and an examination of the Nile crocodile anatomy. Also included at this website are links to a Teacher's Guide, a Links and Books page, and the TV Program Transcript and Description. [NL]

Indian Birds by R.S. Suresh

This creative website about Indian Birds by systems engineer and bird photographer R.S. Suresh welcomes visitors with the bright sounds of bird song. The homepage contains a brief introduction to the Birds of India, a brief section on Photographing Birds in India, and a link to the Photo Gallery of Indian Birds. The Photo Gallery is the centerpiece of the website and contains three separate galleries featuring images of birds like the Red-wattled Lapwing, Coppersmith, Painted Stork, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Paradise Flychatcher, and many more. Mr. Suresh also provides a well-organized page of links to related Indian and International websites. A nice additional site feature is the What's New section which documents additions and changes to the site over time. [NL]

OrchidMania: Native Orchids of the United States [java]

This amazingly comprehensive website from OrchidMania connects site visitors to information about an extensive list of native orchids in the United States. The homepage contains a simple U.S. map and invites site users to click on individual states to bring up state-specific orchid lists. Orchids are listed alphabetically by scientific name and link to individual pages that, depending on the orchid, include varying amounts of information and features. Orchid pages can include information regarding common names, synonyms, bloom-times, habitat, and more. Additional page features include photos, distribution maps, and reference lists. Links are also provided for orchids of Mexico, Greenland, and many Canadian provinces. Some of the orchid links and photo plug-ins are not presently operational, but this inconvenience does not detract from the overall usefulness and value of this site. [NL]

The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension Service: Propagating House Plants [pdf]

This website, hosted by the University of Georgia and Cooperative Extension Service, features an article on Propagating House Plants prepared by Extension Horticulturalist P.A. Thomas. The article covers sexual and asexual propagation with brief sections on Seed Propagation, Planting Spores, Cuttings, Layering, and more. The section on Cuttings receives the most attention with subsections on Tip, Stem, Leaf-bud, Leaf, and Cane Cuttings. The instructions are straightforward, clear, and supported by simple illustrations. [NL]

Texas Tech University: The Mammals of Texas, Online Edition

Mammalogists and wildlife enthusiasts alike will find great value in this online edition of the classic text, The Mammals of Texas authored by Drs. William B. Davis and David J. Schmidly. This very well-organized and comprehensive website is hosted by Texas Tech University and "incorporates the complete text and graphics content of the 1994 revision..." of The Mammals of Texas. For those unfamiliar with the book, it "contains information on the distribution, physical characteristics and life histories of the 181 species of Texas mammals. Included are photographs, a comprehensive set of distribution maps and identification keys to the orders and species of mammals found in Texas." Site visitors can browse the Table of Contents for general information regarding mammal study as well as specific information for different mammal species. Specific mammal pages can also be accessed by alphabetical species lists organized by both scientific and common names. Additionally, the site provides an engine for keyword searches. [NL]

UCSD-Sripps Institution of Oceanography Library: Diving Under Antarctic Ice

If you can pull yourself away from the innovative and interactive underwater image on the homepage of this UCSD-Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library website, you will discover that many fascinating creatures dwell beneath Antarctic Ice. The high-quality photos and interesting information offered by this website are the products of three Antarctic scuba diving and field expeditions led by professional underwater photographer Norbert Wu. A stand-out feature of this site is the Underwater Field Guide to Ross Island & McMurdo Sound, Antarctica which includes close-up photos of, and information about, organisms like sponges, comb jellies, proboscis worms, sea spiders, and many more. Other site features include a Thematic Photo Gallery, journal reports from the expeditions, and information about scuba diving under Antarctic ice. [NL]

Oxford University Museum of Natural History: Charles Darwin's Crustacea

This Oxford University Museum of Natural History online exhibit on Charles Darwin's Crustacea collection will be of interest to biological scientists, naturalists and Darwin enthusiasts. The site provides a How to Search Darwin's Crustacea Database page which explains, among other things, that searches can be conducted with one or more of the following fields: Scientific Name, Darwin's Diary Entry, and/or Author. Crustacea searches yield nice, clear photographic images of the specimens and identifying information including Scientific Name, OUMNH Number, Author, and Darwin's Diary Entry. Site visitors can also peruse a sampling of Darwin's collection by selecting the View Image Gallery link. [NL]

Topic In Depth

The Science of Love

1. NSF-Why Files: The Science of Love
2. BBC-Hot Topics: The Science of Love
3. Discovery Health: Science of Love
4. PBS-Springboard: The Science of Love
5. The Naked Scientists: Science of Love-Cupid's Chemistry
6. Australian Broadcasting Company-Radio National-the Health Report: Biology of Love

It's the season of Saint Valentine, spring is just around the corner, and love is in the air. People often speak of the emotional quality of love, but the following websites explore this powerful phenomenon from a different angle: the science of love. The first website (1) from the Why Files entices its visitors with candy-colored hearts and 10 pages of intriguing inquiries into love science research on pheromones, chocolate, and more. The second site (2), a BBC Science-Hot Topics feature, covers topics like The Three Stages of Love, The Science of Flirting, and Sensual Signals. The third site (3) from the Discovery Health Channel explores scientific perspectives on falling in love, being in love, and staying in love. This site also links to other features such as Aphrodisiacs: Magic or Medicine. The fourth site (4), from PBS-Springboard, tells us "that scientists are taking love into the lab-and making some remarkable discoveries." This site includes links to an interview with anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher about human monogamy, insights into love from Dr. Thomas Insel's pioneering work, and resources for doing research on the physiology of love. The fifth site (5), from The Naked Scientists, features an article by Dr. Claire McLoughlin of the Royal Society of Chemistry discussing the chemistry of love. The final site (6) from Australian Broadcasting Company Health Report contains the transcript from a 1999 interview with anthropologist and love specialist Dr. Helen Fisher regarding the biology of love. [NL]

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