The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 3, Number 24

November 26, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


NatureServe: Global Amphibian Assessment [pdf]

Representing the expertise of over 500 herpetologists, the "Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) is the first-ever comprehensive assessment of the conservation status of the world's 5,753 known species of frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians. This website presents results of the assessments, including IUCN Red List threat category, range map, ecology information, and other data for every amphibian species." The GAA Database is searchable by Name, Taxonomy, Status, Habitat, Country, and more. The site also contains information about GAA Partners, Methods, Data Types, Limitations of Data, and Key Findings. In addition, site visitors can link to a downloadable report analyzing GAA results in relation to New World amphibians. [NL]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Ecosystems Research Division [pdf]

Research at the Environmental Protection Agency's Ecosystems Research Division (ERD) "includes studies of the behavior of contaminants, nutrients, and biota in environmental systems, and the development of mathematical models to assess the response of aquatic systems, watersheds and landscapes to stresses from natural and anthropogenic sources." The ERD website contains information about a wide variety of research foci including: Nitrogen and Redox Speciation in Environmental Systems; Lock Lake Tidal Marsh Study; Exposure Analysis Modeling System; Oil Spills; Brownfields, and more. The site offers a collection of downloadable publications and fact sheets and lists complete publications from 1995 onward as well. Site visitors will also find contact information for staff, presentation abstracts, information about various research opportunities, and a link to available ERD software. [NL]

University of California-Santa Barbara: Biogeography Lab

Established in 1991 at the University of California-Santa Barbara, the Biogeography Lab conducts "research on the ecology, distribution and conservation of species and ecosystems using field studies, geographic information systems and remote sensing." Site visitors can learn about ongoing research projects in the general areas of Landscape Ecology, Conservation Planning, and Remote Sensing & GIS. The lab website contains lists for newer publications, technical reports, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, and more. Many of the publications are either downloadable, or hyperlinked to the abstract or full text. The site also links to contact and background information for staff, and to data for some of the Lab's older projects. A number of related links are listed at the site as well. [NL]

University of Aarhus, Denmark-The Biological Institute: MycoKey-Fungi of Ecuador

This Fungi of Ecuador website shares results from a fungal biodiversity research project conducted by mycologists Thomas Laesse, of the University of Copenhagen, and Jens H. Petersen, of the University of Aarhus. The site offers a Collections Database with search fields for species, collector, herbarium, locality, and more. The site's Taxon Database allows visitors to search for trophic strategy, systematic group, form group, and name. The site also provides a collection of beautiful photographs that can be located by either an index or database search engine. Notably, the site offers an extensive list of relevant literature spanning the past 100 years. In addition, the site contains selected links and also a couple photos of a simple cardboard dryer, with brief notes about drying specimens in the tropics. [NL]

California State University, Chico-Biological Sciences Herbarium: Database

With over 88,000 mounted and dried specimens, the "Biological Sciences Herbarium at California State University, Chico is the most complete repository of plant specimens from northeastern California. The emphasis is on the local flora, and includes a number of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species." Samples in the Herbarium include ferns, conifers, flowering plants, lichens, bryophytes, and slime molds. The Herbarium Database is still adding specimen label information, but currently contains 66,477 specimen records. The Database includes search fields for Genus, Species, and Subspecies. All higher academic institutions are eligible for specimen loans from the Herbarium. [NL]

National Cancer Institute: Office of Cancer Complementary & Alternative Medicine [pdf]

The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) was set up in 1998 "to coordinate and enhance the activities of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the arena of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)." In service of this goal, OCCAM works to promote and support "research within CAM disciplines and modalities as they relate to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, cancer-related symptoms and side effects of conventional treatment." The OCCAM website provides information about Funding Opportunities, Research Resources, Conferences, Clinical Trials, and more. The site also contains a variety of information about CAM; as well as links to other resources including a 61-page, downloadable document developed to assist researchers seeking cancer CAM grants. [NL]


Missouri Botanical Garden-Education Division: Exploring the Tropics

Developed by the Education Division at the Missouri Botanical Garden, this self-guided online tour provides students with a good overview of tropical rain forests. The tour utilizes great illustrations and concise sections to discuss interesting topics such as plant adaptations, and animal and plant interactions. Other tutorial topics include rain forest layers, biological diversity, economic plants of the tropics, effects of elevation on vegetation, and more. The site also discusses some causes of rainforest destruction, and suggests simple activities that can help protect rain forests. [NL]

University of California-Berkeley Museum of Paleontology: What Did T. rex Taste Like?

From the University of California-Berkeley Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), this interactive learning module, developed for students in grades seven though 12, serves as "an introduction to cladistics, the most commonly used method of classification today." The module utilizes cool graphics, and a tour-like format to explore evolutionary relationships, and the diversity of life. UCMP suggests setting aside three to four class periods for students to navigate through the entire module. The site includes a helpful Teacher's Guide with sections addressing technical requirements, module navigation and trouble-shooting, and related activities and resources. The Guide also provides a suggested lesson plan for the module, online handouts, and assessment materials. [NL]

The Garden Helper

This informative online gardening resource was created by longtime gardener and former nursery owner Bill Beaurain. The website presents information addressing such topics as Gardening Basics, Creating New Gardens, Fruits and Vegetables, Annual and Perennial Plants, Shrubs and Trees, Bulbs, and more. Site visitors can also link to brief growing guidelines for a wide variety of plants listed by scientific and common name. In addition, the website includes a beautiful, interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map; and information about caring for house plants, and dealing with garden pests and problems. The site offers an online Gardener's Forum, a Garden Encyclopedia, a Glossary, a Gardening Calendar of monthly tasks, and cookie recipes as well. [NL]

Environment Canada-Canadian Wildlife Service: Identifying Waterfowl

From the Canadian Wildlife Service-Quebec, this archived waterfowl guide helps bird watchers learn how to "recognize birds on the wing--it emphasizes their fall and winter plumage patterns as well as size, shape, and flight characteristics." The guide includes brief introductory sections regarding Eclipse Plumage, Dabbling Ducks, Comparative Sizes, Wetlands and Birds, Swans and Geese, and Diving Ducks. The guide also features identification pages for numerous waterfowl including the Wood Duck, Snow Goose, Common Goldeneye, and Canvasback, to name just a few. Identification pages generally include good-quality illustrations, scientific and common name, audio clips, and brief descriptions. [NL]

The New York Times-Daily Lesson Plan: Clearing the Air

In an age of anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners, fears about microbes seem to pervade our society. This one-hour lesson, designed for sixth to 12th grade students, incorporates a New York Times article about widespread germ worries. The lesson encourages students to think about common misconceptions regarding germs, and to create public service announcements that counter a misconception. The lesson was authored by Priscilla Chan, of The New York Times Learning Network, and Tanya Yasmin Chin, of The Bank Street College of Education in New York City. The website includes a lesson description; Academic Content Standards; and concise sections that address objectives, needed materials, extension activities, evaluation, and interdisciplinary applications. [NL]

Access Excellence Classic Collection-How We See: The First Steps of Human Vision

From the Access Excellence Classic Collection archives, this website contains a concise article about human vision by Dr. Diane M. Szaflarski. The article incorporates clear diagrams as it addresses such elements of human sight as eye anatomy, visual pigments, retinal and vitamin A, photoreceptors, and more. The article is accompanied by two activities regarding how environment affects color vision, and distance vision. The site also includes a glossary and a page of related resources that includes websites, books, and articles. [NL]


WWF's Living Planet Report 2004 [pdf]

The 2004 Living Planet Report is the fifth in a series of global ecological updates from the WWF. The Report assesses the state of ecosystems around the world using two primary measures: The Living Planet Index, which is based on population trends for hundreds of forest, freshwater, and marine species, and the Ecological Footprint, which is based on human demands on renewable natural resources. The 44-page report shows, among other things, that as human consumption has continued to rise beyond sustainable levels, global animal populations have been declining at a rapid pace. English and Portuguese versions of the 2004 Report are available in portable document format, as well as Reports from 2002, 2000, and 1999. In addition, the site offers a world map animation representing the growth of our ecological footprint during the past few decades. [NL]

U.S. Forest Service-Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry: Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk [pdf]

A great resource for Pacific Island land managers, the Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) project works to "compile and disseminate reference information on exotic plant species of known or potential threat to Pacific island ecosystems." The PIER website contains invasive species lists organized by scientific name, location, life form, and common name. Species names link to brief profiles that include images, Native Range, Habitat, Description, References, common names in a number of languages, and more. PIER also offers Risk Assessments for both invasive and potentially invasive species. In addition, the site contains downloadable invasive species Survey Reports for various Pacific islands including Rota, Chuuk, American Samoa, Palau, and Tonga, to name a few. [NL]

The Provincial Museum of Alberta: Eggs-A Virtual Exhibition

From the Provincial Museum of Alberta, this virtual egg exhibition features more than 300 egg images, and information about Oology, Egg Diversity, and Nesting. The exhibition features an Eggs of the World section, as well as sections for Migrant Species of Alberta, and many bird families including Loons, Birds of Prey, Shorebirds, and Woodpeckers, to name a few. Site visitors will discover a fascinating array of egg images accompanied by brief egg descriptions for birds like the Ostrich, Gentoo Penguin, Chilean Tinamou, Limpkin, Osprey, Southern Cassowary, and many more. The site's information sections touch on a variety of interesting subjects including clutch size, egg size and shape, egg color, eating eggs, and egg texture and structure. [NL]

Pew Center on Global Climate Change: Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S. [pdf]

This recently released report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change "reviews the broad range of ecological changes that have occurred in response to human induced changes in the global and U.S. climate." The 67-page report, authored by Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas-Austin and Hector Galbraith of the University of Colorado-Boulder, is available in portable document format. The publication utilizes maps, tables, and figures as it addresses the following topics: Potential Effects of Climate Change on Wild Plants, Animals, and Ecological Processes; Current Observed Climate Change Impacts; Scope of Review and Evaluation Criteria for Studies; and Strength of Evidence that Climate Change is Already Affecting Natural Systems. Site visitors will also find the following sections of the report online: Table of Contents, Foreword, Executive Summary, and Conclusions. In addition, the site links to short bios for the authors and to a Glossary as well. [NL]

The Native Fish Conservancy: Photo Gallery

From the Native Fish Conservancy, this ever-growing online Photo Gallery currently contains more than 550 images. At present, photos are organized alphabetically by scientific name, but future updates will include common names as well. Gallery visitors will discover images of fish like the Western Sand Darter (Ammocrypta clara), Blue Sucker (Cycleptus elongatus), Hornyhead Chub (Nocomis biguttatus), and Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), to name just a few. Visitors can also link to other parts of the NFC site including information about Adopt-A-Tank, Exotics Removal, Breeders Program, and electronic mailing lists. [NL]

University of Illinois-Extension's Nutrition & Health: Turkey for the Holidays

Well, it wouldn't be right to put out the Thanksgiving edition without at least one website exploring the wonders of turkey. From the University of Illinois-Extension's Nutrition & Health archives, this featured website contains a bounty of information regarding the use of turkey in holiday meals. Site visitors will discover a variety of cooking techniques including Traditional Roast Turkey, New Orleans Fried Turkey, Marinated Turkey, and a safe version of the Trash Bag Method. The site also offers information about selection, carving, side dishes, safety, leftovers, and more. For the sake of novelty, the site includes a page of interesting Turkey Facts, as well as links to fun turkey sites. The website offers a page of Thanksgiving links as well. [NL]

Topic In Depth

Medicine and War

PBS-NOVA: Life and Death in the War Zone
The Tide of Wounded: Medicine in the Civil War
National Park Service-Gettysburg National Military Park: Medicine in the Civil War
Institute of Medicine: Health of Veterans & Deployed Forces
Virtual Naval Hospital Does Gulf War Syndrome Exist?
Doctors Without Borders
National Geographic: Doctors Without Borders-Life in the Field

As war predictably leaves injuries and ailments in its wake, medicine has long maintained a presence both on the battlefield and at hospitals where the wounded come home for treatment. This Report's Topic in Depth examines the role of medicine in war, and presents online resources and information regarding combat-related ailments, and services for active military and veterans. From PBS-NOVA, the first selection is a companion website to a program about an American Combat Support Hospital in Iraq. The website contains an article regarding combat medicine ethics, a Teacher's Guide, a visual tour of archival images from the American Civil War through the current Iraq War, and more (1). The second site, created by Civil War buff Jenny Goellnitz, posts a collection of old photos, and offers some interesting information about Civil War medicine, including a feature on amputation surgery (2). The third site, from the Gettysburg National Military Park, contains several photos and brief information for kids about medicine in the Civil War (3). From the Institute of Medicine, the fourth website presents information and reports relating to the health of veterans and deployed military forces. The site has sections for the Gulf War, Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II, and Deployment Health (4). The fifth site presents the Virtual Naval Hospital, which is a digital health sciences library of Naval and Military medicine. The site has separate sections for patients, providers, and administrators (5). From, the sixth site contains a recent article discussing the debate over Gulf War syndrome (6). The seventh site presents Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international medical relief organization that courageously enters regions of conflict to provide medical aid (7). The final selection is a companion website to a National Geographic television series reporting on the work of Doctors Without Borders. The site features profiles of MSF projects, episode summaries, and interviews with MSF staff and volunteers (8). [NL]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2004.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2004. 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.

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