The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 23

November 12, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles [pdf]

Established in 1958, the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR) "is the largest international herpetological society, and is recognized worldwide for having the most diverse program of publications, meetings, and other activities." The SSAR website contains resources for professional and amateur herpetologists alike. The site provides information about SSAR officers and editors, committees, membership, annual meetings, publications, grants, and awards. The site also contains guidelines for submitting to the Journal of Herpetology and the Herpetological Review. Notably, members of the SSAR community provide a free (pre-submission) Manuscript Review Service for herpetologists "whose first language is not English, but who are striving to publish their findings in peer reviewed English language journals." Site visitors interested in reptile and amphibian conservation should be sure to check out the SSAE Conservation Committee page. [NL]

National Center for Biotechnology Information: PubChem Project

From the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), "PubChem contains the chemical structures of small organic molecules and information on their biological activities. It is intended to support the Molecular Libraries and Imaging component of the NIH Roadmap Initiative." PubChem users can search the chemical structure database by chemical properties, structural similarity, and descriptive terms. PubChem utilizes three connected databases--PubChem Compound, PubChem Substance, and PubChem BioAssay--all of which operate inside the Entrez/PubMed information retrieval system. In addition, the site offers the PubChem Structure Search tool for quick similarity searches. The site also links to contact information for the Structure Group research staff, and selected online publications. [NL]

Expert Center for Taxonomic Identification: World Taxonomist Database

The Expert Center for Taxonomic Identification (ETI) developed the World Taxonomist Database (WTD) to serve as an online directory for both taxonomists and users of taxonomic expertise. The goal of the WTD is to better facilitate communication among taxonomists, and make it easier to locate taxonomic specialists around the world. The WTD currently contains entries for 3,969 taxonomists/specialists; and allows visitors to search by Name, Institute, Country, and Specialization. The WTD also offers an advanced search option, and a Who's New list for visitors to consult. The WTD website allows taxonomists to submit and update contact information as well. [NL]

The Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research and the Society of Canadian Limnologists

The Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research (CCFFR) has met annually for more than 50 years, and continues to convene every "January in concert with the Society of Canadian Limnologists (SCL). The conference is a forum where researchers and graduate students can present and discuss the latest advances in freshwater and marine fisheries research." The CCFFR website, hosted by the Oceanography Department at Dalhousie University, presents registration materials for the upcoming 2005 meeting in Windsor, as well as downloadable programme information and abstracts from a number of past conferences. Major themes for the upcoming conference include Fisheries Policy and Protection of Native Fishes; Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquatic Resources; Aquatic Invasive Species; and Aquatic Species at Risk Research-to name a few. The site also links to a brief history of CCFFR, as well as to information about the Clemens-Rigler Graduate Student Travel Fund, and the SCL. [NL]

USGS-Biological Resources: Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

The USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center (PIERC) strives "to provide objective research, baseline information, and technical assistance relating to conservation and restoration of indigenous biological resources occurring within the cultural, sociological and political context of the States and Islands Territories of Hawaii, Guam, Truk, the Marianas Islands, American Samoa and others under the U.S. jurisdiction in the Pacific Basin." The PIERC website contains a very extensive annotated bibliography that serves as introduction to the Center's research. The site also links to information about Field Station Projects under various categories including Hawaiian Birds Projects, Wild Life Health, Ecosystem and Biological Diversity, and Molecular Genetics. In addition, links are provided to Project Leader pages with contact information, professional experiences, and publication lists. [NL]

American Association of Physical Anthropologists

The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) "is the world's leading professional organization for physical anthropologists. Formed by 83 charter members in 1930, the AAPA now has an international membership of over 1,700." The AAPA website contains a capacious job board with listings from universities across the country; a News and Announcements board; and downloadable copies of the Association's Newsletter. The site also offers information about: the upcoming annual meeting, other meetings of interest, membership, contact information for officers, and links to associated organizations. For up-and-coming professionals, the site provides links to graduate programs at leading universities and colleges, as well as information about student prizes, and physical anthropology careers. [NL]

Mitochondria Research Society-Mitichondrian: A Century of Mitochondrial Research: Achievements and Perspectives [pdf]

Hosted by the Mitochondria Research Society, this archived Mitochondrian journal article offers a broad exploration of the field of mitochondrial research. The 29-page article was published in 2000 by Dr. Immo E. Scheffler, a professor of biology at the University of California-San Diego. In addition to providing a synopsis of mitochondrial research, Dr. Scheffler attempts "to define some of the outstanding challenges and questions still to be solved in the field." Major headings in the article include: Mitochondria and Evolution; Mitochondria and Energy Metabolism; Mitochondria and Disease; Mitochondria in Anthropology and Forensic Science-to name a few. Even though references were limited to recent reviews and papers, the article contains an extensive collection spanning a total of eight pages. [NL]

Swedish Museum of Natural History-Department of Vertebrate Zoology: Guide to South American Cichlidae [pdf]

Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History developed the Guide to the South American Cichlidae as "a non-commercial, technical source of information about the systematics, taxonomy and geographical distribution of South American cichlids." The Guide features a Cichlid Names Database containing 469 nominal species and 60 Nominal Genera with search fields for keywords, Genus/Species, Record/Table, Status, and more. The site also offers a phylogenetic tree representing major cichlid groups, a Classification of South American Cichlids, and an Alphabetical List of Nominal Genera and Informal Groups of South American Cichlids. In addition, the Guide contains a sizeable list of publications from 1997 onwards (some of which are hyperlinked or downloadable), and a solid collection of cichlid-related links. [NL]


Texas A&M University: Ocean World-Forams

Featured in the Student section of the Texas A&M University-Ocean World website, this site offers basic information about foraminifera, or forams for short. The site's very brief, kid-friendly information sections touch on foram evolution, benthic vs. planktonic forams, and mass foram extinctions. The site also contains several beautiful images of forams, and a nice graphic of Pangea. After perusing the information sections, students can test their knowledge with a 10-question interactive quiz. The site also offers a link to the Biostrat Gallery-a virtual gallery from the University of Western Australia featuring numerous foram images (reported on in the March 28, 2001, Scout Report for Science & Engineering). Note: The Biostrat Gallery was developed for the scientific community, but with a teacher's assistance--or simply an adventurous attitude--students should be able to locate many fascinating images of forams. [NL]

American Medical Association: Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illnesses: A Primer for Physicians and Other Health Care Professionals [pdf]

According to the American Medical Association, an estimated 76 million people get sick from food borne illnesses annually. It is no wonder than, that this free food borne illnesses primer has been so popular among physicians and other health care professionals. The primer was developed collaboratively by the American Medical Association and four other national organizations, and "is intended to provide health care professionals with current and accurate information for the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of foodborne illnesses." The 17,500 copies from the first printing are gone, but the entire primer is available in downloadable sections. The Primer includes Foodborne Illnesses Tables and Patient Scenarios regarding: Bacterial Agents, Viral Agents, Hepatitis A Infection, Antibiotic-resistant Salmonellosis, Norovirus Infection, and more. Health care professionals may also select to be put on a waiting list for the second printing of the primer. Be sure to check back for the forthcoming downloadable, interactive personal digital assistant version as well. [NL]

Wolf Song of Alaska

Wolf Song of Alaska is a "member-supported, non-profit, apolitical organization dedicated to achieving an understanding of the wolf through education, science, and awareness." In addition to providing information about the activities of the Wolf Song center and museum, this website serves as a library of informational pieces about wolves from around the world. Students looking for information about wolves for school reports, or simply out of curiosity, will find an abundance of topical categories including Wolves of the Lower 48; Wolf Tracking; Wolves and Humans; and Wolves in Folklore--to name just a few. The information pieces tend to be brief, and come in the form of stories, articles, news reports, and more. The site also offers sections for wolves in different regions of the world including parts of Europe, Canada, Africa, and Asia. [NL]

Palm & Cycad Societies of Florida: Virtual Cycad Encyclopedia [pdf]

From the Palm & Cycad Societies of Florida, the Virtual Cycad Encyclopedia is great resource for information and stories about the ancient cycads. The Encyclopedia comprises numerous articles organized under such topics as Cycad Taxonomy, Biology, Evolution, Horticulture, Conservation, and more. Examples of encyclopedia articles include: a 59-frame slide show on Growing and Collecting Cycads; an interactive Key to Cycad Genera; an older article on Pollination Biology of Cycads co-authored by staff at the New York Botanical Garden and the Fairchild Tropical Garden; and a Compiled List of Cycad Genera. The site also contains a Photo Gallery with many good-quality cycad images listed by scientific name. Site visitors will also find a collection of related links, and a list of reference books. [NL]

MIT OpenCourseWare: 5.08 Biological Chemistry II, Spring 2004 [pdf]

This website presents educational resources from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Biological Chemistry Course offered in the spring semester of 2004. This site is part of the MIT OpenCourseWare project, which was developed to share MIT undergraduate and graduate course resources with the Internet community. This particular "course deals with a more advanced treatment of the biochemical mechanisms that underlie biological processes." Primary course topics include: regulation of biosynthetic and degradative pathways; function and structure of nucleic acids; and macromolecular machines for energy and force transduction. The website contains 35 downloadable documents containing lecture notes, as well as downloadable problem sets, and student discussion notes. The site also provides a reading list, Molecular Visualization Exercises (RasMol software required), and links to several Molecular Graphics Tools and Resources. [NL]

University of Illinois Extension-Schools Online: Apples & More

This all-about-apples website was created by Schools Online at the University of Illinois Extension. For educators, the Apples & More website presents a collection of apple-related activities in the subject areas of math, art, social studies, literature, and science. In addition, the site contains information sections regarding apple nutrition, facts, varieties, recipes, and apple preservation. The site also offers annotated links for apple history, apple growing, selection and uses, and cider. Site visitors looking for apple orchards will find separate listings for growers in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The site is available in Spanish and English. [NL]

Clinton Community College: Biology Web-Biology 101 [rtf]

This Biology 101 website was developed by Dr. Michael Gregory for a course at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, New York. The site includes Lecture Notes, Review Questions, Assignment Modules, a Laboratory Manual, and a Glossary. Lecture Note topics include: Cells, Energy and Enzymes, Natural Selection, DNA, Genetics, and more. Notably, the Lecture Notes section contains three extensive PowerPoint self-study exercises dealing with Energy, Photosynthesis, and Cellular Respiration. The site's Laboratory Manual features sections about writing lab reports; The Metric System and Measurement; Microscopy; and a Mitosis and Meiosis Drawing Exercise. In addition to this Biology course, Dr. Gregory also makes his Biology 102 and Human Biology courses accessible to the public. [NL]

Great Lakes Information Network-TEACH Great Lakes: Great Lakes Native Flora

This online lesson about the native flora of the Great Lakes region is part of the Great Lakes Information Network's TEACH website designed for elementary through high school students (last reported on in the October 18, 2002 NSDL Scout Report for the Physical Sciences). The Native Flora site was designed as a mini-lesson within the Environment section of TEACH. The Flora lesson contains brief sections that address Great Lakes vegetational history, native landscaping, plant species, resources for starting a native plant garden, and fun facts. The lesson is accompanied by photos, maps, diagrams, links to other sites for additional information, and links to the site's glossary. At the end of the lesson, students can test themselves with a nine-question quiz. In addition to the Environment section, TEACH Great Lakes offers mini-lessons for the following sections: Geography, History & Culture, Careers & Business, and Pollution. [NL]


Nature Publishing Group-News@Nature: Flores Man [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime, pdf]

The discovery of a small human species in Flores, Indonesia-named Homo floresiensis-has created quite a buzz in both scientific communities and the media. If you have not heard about it yet, or you want to learn more, this website from News@Nature features a variety of information about this remarkable discovery. The website contains links to a collection of news stories, including an interview with Flores team leaders Peter Brown and Mike Morwood. The site also connects to two original research articles about the Flores discovery, as well as a variety of related archaeological stories from the past few years. In addition, News@Nature offers an interactive map feature presenting archaeological discoveries in the Pacific Rim, and an online video about Flores Man. [NL]

The American Ornithologists' Union

The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) was established in 1883, making it "the oldest and largest organization in the New World devoted to the scientific study of birds." Although primarily "a professional organization, its membership of about 4,000 includes many amateurs dedicated to the advancement of ornithological science." The AOU website contains information about membership, upcoming meetings, awards, a variety of publications, and more. The site also offers access to a comprehensive checklist for birds of North America; a preliminary classification of the bird species of South America; and online copies of the Ornithological Societies of North America's Ornithological Newsletter. Notably, the AOU site links to an online job board featuring a range of ornithological opportunities including tenure-track faculty positions, research assistantships, and internships. [NL]

A Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe

If top predators are to persist into future years, they will likely need the help of committed advocates. The Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE)--a network comprised of scientists, government representatives, and non-governmental agency representatives--works to "maintain and restore, in coexistence with people, viable populations of large carnivores as an integral part of ecosystems and landscapes across Europe." The LCIE website provides information about five important carnivorous species: wolverines, brown bears, wolves, Eurasian lynx, and Iberian lynx. The site also links to a variety of downloadable publications regarding LCIE, the aforementioned five species, and a variety of conservation and management issues. From the Carnivore Damage Protection page site visitors can download the latest issue of the LCIE newsletter, which is published to facilitate communication between people working to prevent carnivore damage. The site also contains some nice animal images, and links to the Eurasian Lynx Online Information System (reported on October 15, 2004 in the NSDL Report for the Life Sciences). [NL]

Cyndi's Catalog of Garden Catalogs

Are you looking for bulbs, beneficial garden insects, or that hard-to-find orchid variety? You are likely to find a source for what you seek at garden aficionado Cyndi Johnson's online Catalog of Garden Catalogs. From her many years of gardening and catalog collecting, Ms. Johnson has assembled a cornucopia of annotated links and listings for garden suppliers peddling Chrysanthemums, Roses, Trees, Lilies, Grasses, Heirloom varieties, Organics, Wildflowers, and much more. In addition to specialty sellers, the site lists catalogs that offer seeds, plants, and other supplies for general gardening needs. If you are in the mood to browse, be sure to check out the sizeable alphabetized list of garden vendor websites with listings from AAA Ornamentals to Zuma Canyon Orchids. For site visitors residing outside of the United States, there is a list of garden companies in Canada, as well as a list of companies in selected countries around the world including France, the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and more. The site also contains links to such resources as Regional Advice, Critter Advice, Specialty Gardening, and Plant Finders. [NL]

Missouri Botanical Garden-Research: Flora of the Pramo of El Cajas, Azuay, Ecuador [Macromedia Flash Player]

Available in Spanish and English, the Flora of the Pramo of El Cajas, Azuay, Ecuador is a collaborative creation developed by the ETAPA-Parque Nacional Cajas, Department of Systematic Botany at Aarhus University, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. The project's purpose "was to explore the pramo of Cajas, to take high quality digital photographs, and to produce an illustrated flora of the vascular plants available through the internet." The site contains images and descriptions for 100 representative species with the primary goal of increasing appreciation, knowledge, and protection of these wild and native plants. The species are organized alphabetically by family, and each listing includes the following: photograph, scientific name, family, brief description, and distribution. Site visitors can also link from each listing to the TROPICOS database for additional species and specimen information. The site is designed to be user-friendly for a wide public and includes a glossary for easy interpretation of technical terms. The site also includes the Checklist of the Flora of the Pramo of Cajas, Ecuador. [NL]

Boreal Songbird Initiative

The Boreal Songbird Initiative (BSI) is a "project dedicated to educating birdwatchers and naturalists throughout the United States about the importance of the boreal forest to migratory birds." As part of the Boreal Songbird Network, BSI works with other organizations in the United States--such as the Natural Resources Defense Council--to help conserve the critical boreal forest habitat of Alaska and Canada. The BSI website contains information about the Boreal Songbird Network, Canada's boreal forest, and the relationship between birds and the boreal forest of North America. The site offers downloadable research reports; links to related news articles; and an interactive Boreal Birds field guide with audio calls, images, range maps, and descriptions. The site also offers visitors several actions they can take to help conserve Canada's boreal forest. [NL]

The American Fern Society

The American Fern Society (AFS) has more than 900 members around the globe, making it "one of the largest international fern clubs in the world. It was established in 1893 with the objective of fostering interest in ferns and fern allies." For beginners, the AFS website posts A Brief Introduction to Ferns which touches on fronds, rhizomes, sporangia, life cycle, and history. The site also offers brief online instructions for growing different types of ferns including common ferns, Grape ferns, Psilotum, Schizaea Pusilla, and Xerophytic ferns. In addition, AFS hosts an online Fern Forum that is open to beginners, amateurs, and professionals. Site visitors will also find links to other online fern resources, as well as information about AFS membership, publications, and Spore Exchange service. [NL]

48 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena
University of Freiburg-Medical School: Freiburg Visual Acuity & Contrast Test

Have you ever wondered how different optical illusions work? This fun, informative, and very cool website developed by ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Bach of the University of Freiburg's Medical School introduces 48 interactive visual illusions and phenomena. The illusions are animated and accompanied by explanations that help visitors make sense of their perceptual responses. Major illusion categories include: Motion & Time, Luminance & Contrast, Colour, Cognitive, and more. The site is still in progress, and Dr. Bach encourages both general feedback, and additional scientific information for improving the illusion explanations. The second site, also from Professor Bach, presents site users with an interactive, online Visual Acuity Test. Note: The Contrast component of the Test has yet to be implemented. [NL]

Topic In Depth

Global Biodiversity

Convention on Biological Diversity: Global Biodiversity Outlook
Explore Biodiversity
Australian Government-Department of the Environment and Heritage: Australian Biodiversity
Belgian Federal Science Policy: The Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation: Nepal Biodiversity
Centre for Marine Biodiversity

Nations around the world have recognized biodiversity as one of the most pressing ecological issues of our time. Declining biodiversity over recent decades has prompted the formation of international coalitions and national biodiversity programs. This Topic in Depth explores the work of both international and national efforts to increase global biodiversity. The first site presents an archived report from the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international organization formed by many world nations after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. This first edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook report, published in 2001, was created to provide a status summary, and an analysis of Convention objectives. It is expected that a second edition will be published this year presenting more recent data and analysis (1). Explore Biodiversity is an innovative project involving a team of scientists and filmmakers working to document the diminishing biological diversity of our planet. The hip Explore website shares beautiful images, videos, and information from expeditions to Hawaii, Mexico, and Alaska (2). The third site, from the Australian Government's Department of the Environment and Heritage, discusses biodiversity in Australia. The site contains sections regarding Migratory Species; Conservation and Regional Planning; Invasive Species; and Biodiversity Hotspots--to name a few (3). The fourth website presents the Belgian Biodiversity Platform (4), which is "an integrated network of people and institutions funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between scientists in Belgium and abroad, in the field of biological diversity." From the Nepalese Government's Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, the fifth site presents information about biodiversity programs in Nepal. The site contains sections about Forests, National Parks, Plant Resources, and the Ministry's National Biodiversity Unit (5). The final website presents the Centre for Marine Biodiversity (CMB), a Canada-based organization that was established in 2000 to promote scientific support of marine biodiversity. The CMB website contains research reports, links to several databases, links to various identification guides, and a photo gallery with some nice underwater images (6). [NL]

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