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

February 18, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


Cornell University: Biozon

Developed by Professor Golan Yona and his colleagues at Cornell University, the Biozon database aids in the analysis of biological entities. The "database relies on an extensive database schema that integrates information at the macro-molecular level as well as at the cellular level, from a variety of resources to create a unified biological knowledge resource with emphasis on protein and DNA characterization and classification." Biozon builds on data from a number of preexisting databases including PDB, BIND, KEGG, and SwissProt. New searches can be conducted for the following object types: Protein Families, Nucleic Acids, Gene Expression, Structures, Proteins, and more. Biozon offers file and software downloads, as well as an opportunity to save queries with a personal account. [NL]

Australian Biological Resources Study: Flora Online

The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) provides a bounty of biological and taxonomic information regarding Australian plant and fungi species. Acting as a clearinghouse for online information about plants and fungi, ABRS connects to such resources as the Flora of Australia Online, Checklist of Australian Lichens, Interactive Catalogue of Australian Fungi, Census of Freshwater Algae in Australia, and the Australian Plant Name Index. The site also provides a collection of glossaries that contain terms relating to vascular plants, fungi, fauna, lichens, and ferns. In addition, ABRS offers information about postgraduate scholarships, publications, and research grants. [NL]

GooseRef Bibliography System

Hosted by the International Goose Research Group, GooseRef is a searchable bibliographic system for primary scientific literature regarding geese. GooseRef was developed by Evan Cooch of Cornell University, and currently contains about 2,700 references. Reference listings include author(s), title, year published, and publication journal (when applicable). Users may select a maximum output of references ranging from 25 to 500. The site also contains a list of recent papers, and a feedback form. [NL]

The Peregrine Fund: Research Library [pdf]

The Peregrine Fund was established in 1970 by Tom Cade (a professor of ornithology at Cornell University) to support peregrine falcon populations in the wild. Through its growing Research Library, the Peregrine Fund is committed to making "library and specimen collections available to the entire global research community, especially to colleagues who may not have access to comprehensive library resources." The Research Library holds a large collection of books, reports, reprints, and journals relating to conservation biology, birds, and more. The Library offers search engines for the Reprints Catalog and Research Library Catalog; as well as downloadable inventories for journals, magazines, and newsletters. In addition, the website offers downloadable Peregrine Fund publications from the past two years, annual reports and newsletters, and access to a searchable bibliography of Peregrine Fund publications spanning more than three decades of research. [NL]

Illinois Natural History Survey Mollusk Collection

The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) "Mollusk Collection contains over 105,400 catalogued specimens, most of which were collected in Illinois and the southeastern United States. The collection is 90% freshwater species (mussels, fingernail clams, and snails) and 10% terrestrial species (snails)." This INHS website allows visitors to search the Mollusk Collection Database and offers search fields for Genus species, Stream, Drainage, County, State, Year, and more. The site also links to contact information for mussel researchers in locations around the world, and to the Mollusk Bibliography Database (reported on in the June 6, 2001 Scout Report for Science & Engineering) which contains more than 11,000 references related to freshwater mollusks. In addition, links are provided to the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, and to the UNIO Listserv, an electronic mailing list for researchers, scientists, and students interested in freshwater unionid mussels. [NL]

Mount Sinai Hospital: Blueprint [pdf]

Led by Dr. Christopher Hogue of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital the Blueprint Initiative "develops, hosts and maintains public biological databases and Bioinformatics software tools such as BIND, SeqHound and Distributed Folding." The Blueprint research program also has a sister node located at the National University of Singapore. In addition to providing access to a variety of databases and software, the Blueprint website offers links to a number of downloadable research publications. Site visitors will also find job postings (when available) in the areas of software development, and curation. Additional Blueprint services include user help, educational and outreach support, and product documentation. [NL]

North American Benthological Society [pdf]

Founded in 1953, the "North American Benthological Society (NABS) is an international scientific organization whose purpose is to promote better understanding of the biotic communities of lake and stream bottoms and their role in aquatic ecosystems, by providing media and disseminating new investigation results, new interpretations, and other benthological information to aquatic biologists and to the scientific community at large." Notably, NABS hosts a Classified Ads and Announcements section with listings for a variety of jobs; postdoctoral and graduate student positions; conferences and meetings; publications; and more. Academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and NABS members are all invited to post suitable advertisements free of charge. The NABS website also offers information about the upcoming annual meeting in New Orleans, NABS publications, opportunities for graduate student involvement, and the Freshwater Algae and Macroinvertebrate Slide Library. [NL]

Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre [pdf]

The Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) works "to support the sustainable use, management and conservation of Australia's tropical rainforests through world-class research, training and technology transfer." The eight Rainforest CRC research programs include Functional Ecology and Global Change, Canopy Processes and Dynamics, Restoration Ecology and Farm Forestry, and Aboriginal Collaboration and Capacity-building in Research. In addition to providing information about the research activities of the CRC, this website contains a variety of downloadable publications including a series of information sheets under the general heading of Using Rainforest Research; a series concerning tropical forest issues; annual reports; and newsletters. The site also contains a searchable bibliography with references for a range of publications authored by CRC researchers since 1993. The site provides information about research activities at the CRC-managed Australian Canopy Crane Research Facility as well. [NL]



The award-winning EuroTurtle website, which provides information about the biology and conservation of sea turtles, is supported by Exeter University, King's College Taunton, and the Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles. EuroTurtle provides students and others with opportunities to learn about sea turtle skeletons, life cycle, classification, species distribution, and more. The website also offers a traditional Scientific Key, and a more basic Graphic Key, for identifying sea turtle species. In addition, site visitors will learn about threats facing sea turtles, and can experience life as a sea turtle conservation volunteer at a virtual field station in the Mediterranean Sea. [NL]

WWF: Education-High School [pdf]

From WWF, this website offers high school students a collection of online resources regarding endangered animal species, conservation, and other environmental topics. The Homework Help section contains links to project ideas such as Recycling Greywater for Gardening; a number of downloadable factsheet documents concerning different animals around the world; annotated links to informative websites organized around themes like Soil Types, Major Biomes of the World, and Biopesticides; and a directory of websites relating to ecology and human-environment interactions. The site also offers information about a variety of endangered carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. In addition, students will find concise sections about conservation issues and major habitats as well as image galleries, links to information about educational grants, and a list of universities around the globe that offer courses relating to the environment. [NL]

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Educator's Guide to Bird Study [pdf]

From the highly regarded Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this online Educator's Guide offers "activity ideas and support materials to learn about birds and conduct inquiry-based research." The Guide contains 10 introductory activities that encourage students to become a species specialist, go on a bird walk, set up a bird feeder, color in a downloadable Bird Coloring Book, and more. The website also offers ideas for student research with concise sections addressing the scientific method, suggested research questions, research project design, data analysis, and writing a scientific paper. In addition, the Guide provides information about innovative Citizen Science Projects; a helpful collection of bird-related resources and activity ideas for teachers; educational outreach ideas; and information about a Home Study Course in Bird Biology from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. [NL]

Koday's Kids Amazing Insects

This Amazing Insects website was created by Ed Koday, the technology director at Ivy Hall School, an elementary school located in Buffalo Grove, Ill. Notably, Koday's site was recognized as a Best of the Bugs website by a committee of professional nematologists and entomologists at the University of Florida. Amazing Insects features good-quality photographs and descriptions of numerous insects including aphids, fireflies, swallowtail butterflies, spittle bugs, giraffe weevils, walking sticks, and many more. Specific insect pages include links to related websites as well. This kid-friendly website is a great resource for young students interested in learning about insects. [NL]

Dragonfly TV: Parents & Teachers [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player, RealPlayer]

From PBS, this Dragonfly TV website offers a collection of activities and resources aimed at getting kids psyched about science. A wide variety of site offerings include: matching games featuring animal tracks, and types of fruit; riddles about things like wart removal, cow-derived electricity, and weighing whales; video clips about bugs, and archaeology; and experiment ideas involving a fish mummy, an egg in a bottle, and breathing leaves. The Dragonfly website also hosts a number of message boards for kids. For teachers and parents, the site supplies a range of downloadable, inquiry-based activities in the following subject areas: Body and Brain; Living Things; Earth and Space; Matter and Motion; and Technology and Invention. The site also offers downloadable issues of My Science Journal, a magazine from Dragonfly. [NL]

Junior Master Gardener [pdf]

Junior Master Gardener (JMG) is an innovative national program that exposes young people to gardening, service learning, skill development, group learning, and more. The headquarters for the National JMG Program Office is at Texas A&M University, and, nationally, 28 universities implement the program at the state level. The JMG website provides information about starting and registering a JMG group, ordering curricula, and becoming a state partner (including a list of contacts at participating universities). The site also has a resource page for teachers and leaders; a Kids Zone section with online learning activities; a special Wildlife Gardener section with resources for teachers and kids; monthly JMG newsletters; and information about the JMG Specialist Training. [NL]

National Ocean Service: Welcome to Corals [pdf]

This well-designed website was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service (NOS) to educate high school students and others about coral reefs. The site contains the following three main components: a tutorial providing an overview of coral reefs; two downloadable lesson plans; and links to a variety of online information about coral reefs from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The tutorial contains 11 concise sections about topics such as: threats to coral reefs, coral reef formation, stony corals, coral diseases, and coral reef protection. The two lesson plans focus on coral reef bleaching, and coral reef management. The plans include National Science Education Standards, Learning Objectives, Teaching Time, Learning Procedures, Background Information, Resources, and more. [NL]

The New York Times-Daily Lesson Plan: Fruitful Questions [pdf]

This one-hour lesson, developed collaboratively by Priscilla Chan of The New York Times Learning Network and Bridget Anderson of The Bank Street College of Education in New York City, encourages sixth- to twelfth-grade students to consider the nutritional qualities of dried and fresh fruits. The lesson is inspired by a very brief New York Times Q & A article and in addition to discussing the nutritional values of fruit students are asked to develop their own food science-related questions and answers using the article as a model. The website includes a lesson description; academic content standards; and concise sections that address objectives, evaluation, extension and interdisciplinary activities, and necessary materials. [NL]

General Diseases & Conditions

Hosted by, this helpful website offers information about a wide range of diseases and other medical conditions from scientists and physicians at the noted Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The website offers overviews of a plethora of diseases and conditions including Diarrhea, Alcohol Addiction, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Whooping Cough, to name just a few. The overviews contain concise sections addressing Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Treatment, When to Seek Medical Advice, and more. Site visitors can find additional information by linking to one of 16 Disease & Condition Centers. These Centers address such conditions as High Blood Pressure, Cancer, Arthritis, Pain Management, Cholesterol, Allergy, and Diabetes. [NL]

American Bird Conservancy [pdf]

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a nonprofit organization working to "conserve wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas." The ABC website provides informative and useful features such as the Bird Conservation Directory, a searchable directory of contact information for professionals engaged in bird conservation throughout the Americas, and the downloadable Birdwatcher's Guide to Global Warming (last mentioned in the June 28, 2002 NSDL Scout Report for the Life Sciences). The site also provides information about ABC membership and a variety of conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, Cats Indoors, The North American Bird Conservation Initiative, and the Pesticides and Birds Campaign. Site visitors may also view past copies of the ABC newsletter; and sign up for free email bulletins containing conservation action alerts, information, and news. [NL]

Physicians for Social Responsibility: MercuryActionNOW [pdf]

MercuryActionNOW is an "online resource created by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) to provide health care professionals and concerned citizens with information about the effects of mercury emissions on public health." The website is full of links to reports, fact sheets, letters, and other websites regarding mercury-related pollution and health issues. Examples include a downloadable Salmon Contaminant Factsheet; the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury website; the CDC's Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals: Mercury; and Proceedings of the 2004 National Forum on Contaminants in Fish. The PSR website provides a resource section specifically for health care providers as well as sections that link to research and technical information, media materials, and background information. PSR offers suggestions for political actions in response to mercury pollution as well. [NL]

North American Native Fishes Association

The North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) works "to increase and disseminate knowledge about North America's native fishes and their habitats among aquarium hobbyists, biologists, fish and wildlife officials, anglers, educators, students, and others, through publications, electronic media, regional and national meetings, and other means." The NANFA website features a Checklist of Freshwater Fishes Native to North America and a Fish in Focus section with beautiful images and brief descriptions of such fish as the Hogchoker (Trinectes maculatus), Central Stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), and Southern Redbelly Dace (Phoxinus erythrogaster). The site also contains information about an award program for breeders, grant programs, annual meetings, membership, and the NANFA quarterly magazine, American Currents. NANFA offers a solid collection of related links, and an electronic mailing list as well. The website is under construction and promises future sections relating to natural history, captive care, conservation, and collecting. [NL]

The Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation [pdf]

The Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Foundation was founded "by an international group of physicians and researchers to provide an ongoing exchange of information about MDS." For those unfamiliar with this condition, MDS "is a collection of disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells." The MDS Foundation website offers free resources for clinicians, information for patients, international research updates, and information about upcoming and past symposia. The site also provides an extensive list of MDS Centers of Excellence throughout the United States and around the world. Other MDS Foundation services include an International MDS Patient Registry; online forums for patients and professional members; downloadable newsletters; links to related articles and archived abstracts; and related links. [NL]

American Cancer Society: Cancer Survivors Network [pdf, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player]

Supported by the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Survivors Network (CSN) is a non-commercial website providing cancer survivors, as well as their friends and families, with a secure, private place to communicate and share experiences. The CSN site offers a variety of online discussion groups; a resource library; a place for personal web pages; and a gallery featuring poems, images, and stories. Notably, the CSN website also contains an extensive collection of pre-recorded personal stories and talk shows. Note: Access to various sections of the CSN website is restricted to registered members; however, member registration is a free and straightforward process. [NL]


MedBioWorld, originally established as Science.komm (reported on in the October 27, 1999 Scout Report for Science & Engineering) in Austria by Dr. Mark Brownlow, is now operated by U.S.-based Healthnostics, Inc. MedBioWorld is an expansive information resource and reference website, providing "access to medical and bioscience journals, associations, databases and other medical resources, with more than 35,000 active links." The website offers a wide variety of links under the broad categories of Medical Resources, Bioscience Resources, and General Resources. Examples of subcategories include: Medical Portals and Search Engines; Biological Image Databases; Medical Student Resources; and Selected Science Fellowships, to name just a few. The website also contains links to journal articles, a variety of daily news sites, free medical books, images, and numerous career opportunity websites. [NL]

Union of Concerned Scientists: Food and Environment [pdf]

The Food and Environment program was developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to help "create a food system that encourages innovative and environmentally sustainable ways to produce high-quality, safe, and affordable food, while ensuring that citizens have a voice in how their food is grown." The Food and Environment website provides information about three UCS focus areas: Antibiotic Resistance, Biotechnology, and Sustainable Agriculture. The site also links to action alerts, downloadable reports, news, and special features like the UCS Pharm Crop Database, a source for information on USDA-approved pharmaceutical and industrial crop production by state. Site visitors can also link to information about other UCS programs including Clean Vehicles, Global Environment, Clean Energy, and Global Security. [NL]

Topic In Depth


Biodiesel America,0,0,1,0,0
National Biodiesel Board
Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
European Biodiesel Board
Biodiesel Association of Australia
U.S. Department of Energy: Biomass Program
The Earthrace

As global dependence on fossil fuels is increasingly called into question, many nations, organizations, and individuals are exploring the use of biodiesel, a renewable fuel derived from vegetable oils (or animal fat), as an alternative power source. The first website presents (1) Biodiesel America, "a campaign whose mission is to change 100,000 diesel school busses to biodiesel by 2010." Biodiesel America has an educational mission, and its website offers a Biodiesel 101 section, as well as sections for biodiesel resources, news, online discussion forums, and more. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) (2) represents "the biodiesel industry as the coordinating body for research and development in the United States." The NBB site offers a database full of downloadable reports, buyer's information, biodiesel news, market information, and a variety of other resources. The nonprofit Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) (3) works "to promote renewable fuels for automotive transportation and government liaison activities." In addition to information about biodiesel and ethanol, the CRFA website contains several downloadable newsletters, and a collection of related links. The European Biodiesel Board (EBB) (4), also a nonprofit organization, works to promote biodiesel use in the European Union (EU). The EBB website offers downloadable articles regarding biodiesel in the EU, downloadable reports from EU member states, a list of upcoming events, an EBB email information service, and basic statistical tables representing biodiesel production by country. The Biodiesel Association of Australia (BAA) (5) "was founded in late 2000 to ensure that the biodiesel industry is established and flourishes in Australia." The BAA website contains basic, concise information about biodiesel; links to related news articles; downloadable BAA newsletters and biodiesel-related documents; an online discussion forum; and a collection of related links. From the U.S. Department of Energy, the sixth (6) website presents information about the Biomass Program, whose mission is to work with U.S. industry to transform "abundant biomass resources into clean, affordable, and domestically produced biofuels, biopower, and high-value bioproducts." The final website (7) presents the Earthrace, a fantastic plan aimed at raising awareness about biodiesel by breaking "the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat." Powered by biodiesel, it is hoped that the Earthrace vessel will be able to travel approximately 24,000 nautical miles in fewer than 65 days. [NL]

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