The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 14

July 9, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


The Field Museum: PEET-Austral Staphylinidae

Staphylinidae, also known as rove beetles, is comprised by "one of the largest families of animals, presently including over 47,000 described species placed in roughly 3200 genera, grouped in up to 31 subfamilies, with many more species and genera yet to be described." The PEET (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy) project and website from Chicago's Field Museum, is studying this incredibly diverse animal group and offering databases and publications for perusal. Also at the site is a detailed description of the project's methods as well as a presentation of what has been found thus far from a field expedition to Chile. 2004 and 2005 field work will include trips to South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Also available at the site is a link to the project's staff. [JPM]

UCSD-Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Marine Biology Research Division

With over 1,000 staff members, an annual budget of nearly $150 million, and its own fleet of ships capable of global travel, Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the most significant homes of scientific inquiry in the world. As part of its many diverse efforts, Scripps operates the Marine Biology Research Division which is presented at this website. The site, while simply designed and easy to navigate, is a great resource for students and researchers interested in learning more about the research activities at Scripps. Those interested in a certain type of research can narrow down the division into its specific labs, such as Cell and Developmental Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Microbiology, and Physiology. Visitors to the site can also access the many sub-laboratories, each focusing on specific subjects, such as Sea Turtles, Bioluminescence, Coral Reef ecology, and tons more. [JPM]

Jackson Laboratory - Mouse Genome Informatics: The Gene Expression Database

A very unique biomedical research institution, "The Jackson Laboratory, a non-profit institution, is the world's largest mammalian genetic research facility." As such, Jackson provides universities and hospitals worldwide with millions of mice -- representing more than 2,500 varieties -- each year. This website offering from Jackson Laboratory, located in Bar Harbor, Maine, allows visitors to solicit valuable information on the mouse genome. "The Gene Expression Database (GXD) is a community resource for gene expression information from the laboratory mouse. GXD stores and integrates different types of expression data and makes these data freely available in formats appropriate for comprehensive analysis." At the site, visitors can learn about how to acquire data and search for via the Gene Expression Query Forms. Also of interest are the sections devoted to Who's Who in GXD and links to Selected Publications. [JPM]

Belgian Scientific Research Programme on the Antarctic

The 1959 Antarctic Treaty set out to achieve "demilitarization, the ban on nuclear tests and on the disposal of radioactive waste material - the respect of which is guaranteed by a system of mutual inspection - and the promotion of international scientific cooperation. The approval in 1991 of the 'Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty' (Madrid Protocol), turned the area into a natural reserve dedicated to peace and science. The Protocol prohibits any non-scientific activity relating to mineral resources and otherwise, makes provision for the realization of environmental evaluations to be based upon scientific evidences." At this site, visitors can learn about the goals of the programme and also learn more about some of the many phases of its research projects. Also of interest are is the metadata section, including links to data from projects such as "The Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Cap." Overall, a very interesting site for those interested in the fruits of the Madrid Protocol and the science that has occurred in its wake. [JPM]


The Universal Protein Resource, UniProt, "is the world's most comprehensive catalog of information on proteins." The Getting Started, Searches/Tools, and Databases sections are the true gems of the site. After getting acquainted with the trove of information and data offered by UniProt, users can then begin to search for various protein sequences and data collection via a well-organized searchable database organized by Classification, Function, Property and more. Also available for visitors is the ability to download some or all of the UniProt database. Other resources include a documents section that provides visitors with a user's manual and various technical information guides regarding the databases. [JPM]

USDA: National Peanut Research Laboratory

"The National Peanut Research Laboratory's mission is to conduct basic and applied research to develop knowledge of the factors affecting the production, harvesting, storage, quality, and safety of peanuts." And, this exceptionally well-designed and informative site is a good example of all of the lab's work. Visitors can get a good appraisal of what's going on at the lab by checking out the Research site, where links such as Crop Production Technology, Prevention of Mycotoxins in Peanuts, Maintaining Peanut Quality During Postharvest Processing, and more, take the visitor to subpages that are full of information about the relative research program. Also available at the site are links to the lab's publications from the past several decades as well as information on how to order software to assist in management of peanut production and management. Also available at the On-line Tools link are helpful tools such as a Warehouse Ventilation Calculator, and free upgrades for previous software editions. [JPM]


Animal Behavior Society: Laboratory Exercises in Animal Behavior

Developed by an animal behavorist, Dr. Ken Yasukawa, and a teacher, Rebecca Brooks, these laboratory exercises for high school students represent a rare pairing of researcher and teacher. Exceptionally well designed and explained, these exercises -- including titles such as Ethograms of Mice, Squirrels and Food Selection, Crickets and Territory Defense, and more -- should definitely be a great tool for high school teachers working with advanced students of ecology or biology. All of the exercised are explained in detail and worksheets are provided for replication. [JPM]

Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Kids for Trees

From the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this site offers ten great lesson plans for teachers of elementary grades to use in their classes. The site is divided into two parts, Student's Guide and Teacher's Guide, and all necessary resources are provided for all of the lessons. Also available is a tree-related glossary for the students. The only link not working currently is the Trees of Eastern North American Forests link. [JPM]

UCSD-San Diego Supercomputer Center/University of Massachusetts: Protein Explorer

While certainly a fantastic educational resource, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) website is definitely geared towards those with a background in or who are currently studying proteins. The site, authored by Eric Martz of the University of Massachusetts, offers several flash-enabled movies that allow viewers to study protein molecules from a three dimensional point of view. As the site notes, "for visualizing the three-dimensional structures of protein, DNA, and RNA macromolecules, and their interactions and binding of ligands, inhibitors, and drugs. It is arguably the easiest-to-use software of its kind. It is suitable for high school and college students (ages 16 years and older), yet it is also widely used by graduate students and researchers." Thus, beginners to the site will want to check out the Beginners Start Here section so not to get too overwhelmed with the many other areas of the site. [JPM]

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Biochemistry of Metabolism

From Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute comes this incredibly comprehensive website of "studio-format" courses devoted to the Biochemistry of Metabolism. For the class, each section is divided into two hour sections which are comprised of lecture, exercises (called studio exercises) and discussion. Developed and maintained by Joyce Diwan, the course is designed for "a classroom with internet-connected computers, or network ports for student laptops. Preferably there should be at least one computer per two students. Equipment for projection from a networked instructor's computer or laptop is essential. A class size of 30-40 students is optimal, although a class with up to 60 students is feasible with competent teaching assistants." The three main topics covered are Molecular Biochemistry I (including Sugars and Polysaccharides, Lipids and Membranes, and may more), Molecular Biochemistry II (including Pentose Phosphate Pathway, the Calvin Cycle, and many more), and Cellular Biochemistry (including Actin cytoskeleton and others). [JPM]

Poway Unified School District -- Hello Dolly: A WebQuest

Human cloning is quite possibly the most contentious and uncertain of all of the medical science discoveries and research efforts of the past century and its future is quite uncertain. This exercise, developed by Keith Nuthall of the Poway Unified School District in California, challenges students to consider the ethics, politics, and science of cloning en route to devising a detailed answer to the question, "What government policy should be established to regulate cloning?" Provided are lots of resources for the student and teacher, including lots of website links, tools for the project, a Teacher Toolbox, and more. Also useful are links to standards and a timeline of how long the project might take. Definitely a great problem-based activity using a contemporary issue that illuminates the uncertainties of science and society. [JPM]


Palaeos: The Trace of Life on Earth

Brought to the web by an interesting consortium of individuals interested in the topic, Palaeos simply states that it is "dedicated to providing detailed information on the history of life on Earth." And it does just that. With subtopics such as Palaeontology, Evolution, Geochronology, Systematics and Phylogeny, and more, the site offers a trove of information about...the history of life on earth. While much of the site actually serves as more of portal to other web-related resources, it certainly offers a great amount of information in an organized fashion for those interested in the subject. There's a comprehensive list of related texts as well a detailed biography section of the site's creators. [JPM]

Missouri Botanical Garden: Ornamental Plants from Russia and Adjacent States of the Former Soviet Union

Authored by Tatyana Shulkina -- the former curator of living plant collections at the Komarov Botanical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia -- of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this site offers an exceptional look at the flora of Russia and the states representing the former Soviet Union. With incredible organization and phenomenal photos, the site is a great resource for those interested in the botany of the world. Sections of the site include: Ornamental Plants in their Natural Habitats, Ornamental Plants of Horticultural Value, Russian Landscaping Style, and more. Each area of the site includes a detailed look at the plants found there as well as a discussion of their uses. [JPM]

Birds of Prey at

Brought to you by Greg Gothard, a birding enthusiast from California, this website offers an incredible array of information about and photos of birds of prey. The sections of the site include: Eagles, Soaring Hawks, Forest Hawks, Falcons, Osprey, Harrier, White-tailed Kite, Owls, Turkey Vulture, and more. There is a Glossary and Identification Help section, too, to help those in need of more information about birds of prey or help with identifying one. The Links area leads to all sorts of raptor-related websites and the Questions section allows you to ask Greg a question directly. [JPM]

Wildlifeforever: Gardening for Wildlife Conservation

Created by Paula Graham, the Wildlifeforever website depicts her own several-year project to restore three acres to its prairie and wildflower roots. "Our gardens have become the chief refuge for the wildlife that can adapt. Owls, foxes and even badgers have moved into the towns. It is up to us to provide them with their basic needs. Anyone with a garden, a field or an orchard, however large or small, can come to the rescue by caring for it in a wildlife-friendly way," says Graham. At the site, visitors can check out the Food, Water, Shelter, Meadow, and Feeding sections. At the Feeding section, Graham even reflects on why she has moved away from artificial feeding as her more natural restoration areas have flourished. In all, this is a very interesting site for those considering a similar project with several acres or those with a small urban yard who are considering gardening for wildlife. [JPM] ActKey

Provided by the Harvard University Herbarium, ActKey allows visitors to locate and use a key for identifying an unknown specimen. As is noted on the site, "ActKey was developed to enable ready-access to on-line interactive keys. The program is web-based. Common Internet browsers may be used to access the interface." Thus, by visiting the site, users can choose from over five pages of keys, ranging from Aceraceae to Urticaceae. Once at a key, the user is queried for information such as: habit, stems, leaves, stipules, petiole, leaf blade, and more. In the end, you will hopefully have pinned down your specimen to a specific species. Definitely a great site for the recreational botanist, students, and researchers. [JPM]

New England Herpetological Society

The New England Herpetological Society (NEHS) provides this site as part of its mission to teach people about herpetology while promoting conservation and preservation of reptiles and amphibians and their habitats. At the site, visitors will find a great image gallery, information on upcoming events, information on how to become a member, the projects of the NEHS, herp-related links, and lots more. Also interesting is the Animal Adoption page that seeks to help those trying to get rid of a reptile or amphibian find someone who is looking for one. [JPM]

Topic In Depth

From Shore to Sea

National Park Service-Canaveral National Seashore: Nature & Science
Surfrider Foundation: Beach Sand at the Base of the Food Chain (pdf file) Atlas: Coral Reefs-Reefs in Trouble
Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre-Ask a Scientist: Plants and Algae
Oyster River Middle School: Online Marine Picture Book
Stony Brook University-Marine Biology Web: Glossary of Marine Biology

As the dog days of summer begin to set in, humans tend to flock like seagulls to the sun and sand of the shore and sea. This Topic in Depth examines several topics of interest from food chain on a beach to coral reefs.

The first site (1), from the National Park Service, offers a look at the exceptionally beautiful Canaveral National Seashore. The site gives information about the flora and fauna found at the seashore as well a great photo gallery. The second link(2) leads to a white paper by Peter Entnoyer, Chad Nelson, and Kevin Ranker of the Surfider Foundation on the value of beach sand in the food chain. At the third site (3) from Mother Jones, visitors will find an article about the status of coral reefs. The fourth site, (4) from Ask a Scientist provides several questions and answers about plants and algae. The next link leads to the Online Marine Picture Book (5), a great resource for great photos from everything from crabs to starfish. The last site, from SUNY Stony Brook(6), provides a great glossary of marine biology related terms from Abyssal Plain to Zooxanthellae. [JPM]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Life Sciences.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

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

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

Internet Scout Project Team
Nathan Larson Editor
John Morgan Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Max Grinnell Contributor
Valerie Farnsworth Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Rachel Enright Contributor
Todd Bruns Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.