The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 4, Number 12

June 10, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


Stanford University Medical Center: Ovarian Kaleidoscope Database [Java]

The Ovarian Kaleidoscope Database (OKDB) was developed by the Hsueh Lab in the Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics at Stanford University Medical Center. The OKDB "provides information regarding the biological function, expression pattern and regulation of genes expressed in the ovary. It also contains information on gene sequences, chromosomal localization, human and murine mutation phenotypes and biomedical publication links." Database users can conduct a Gene Search, or browse an extensive Alphabetical List of Ovarian Genes. After registering with OKDB, site users can access Submit and Update options as well. The site also contains an interactive diagram of Ovarian Gene Mutations Associated with Infertility or Sub-Fertility, information about Ovarian Gene Maps, and a selection of Useful Links. [NL]

Texas Natural History Collections: Herpetology

The Herpetology Collection of reptiles and amphibians is part of the Texas Natural History Collections (TNHC) in the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Memorial Museum. The Collection "holdings consist of about 63,000 catalogued specimens, which are used for research by faculty, staff and students at the University, as well as by qualified researchers throughout the world." Frogs make up more than half of the catalogued specimens, and the United States is the primary source of specimens. Collection materials are also from Central and South America, Mexico, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Loans are available to "established researchers at recognized institutions with the facilities to properly house and care for the specimens." The website offers information about the Loan Policy to interested researchers. The site also links to the searchable and browseable TNHC Herp Database. Please note that the Database is under construction, and may be unavailable on occasion. [NL]

Association for Tree-Ring Research

This Association for Tree-Ring Research (ATR) website serves as an information resource for scientists and others working in the field of dendrochronology. The scope of ATR is aimed particularly "at research groups and individual scientists of Europe working without a detailed knowledge of what is going on in the many different corners of Europe, but also of course, for everybody interested in this field." The ATR site contains a number of helpful information-sharing services including Discussion Groups, listings for Lectures and Conferences, and a Job Market board. In addition, the site presently links to three related databases, and ATR invites visitors to notify them about pertinent new databases. The website also contains several downloadable articles, as well as copies of the ATR newsletter. The ATR site is available in German and English. [NL]

Wolves, Elk, Willows, and Trophic Cascades in the Upper Gallatin Range of Southwester Montana, USA [pdf]

In this 21-page article, Oregon State University researchers William J. Ripple and Robert L. Beschta summarize "the status of wolves (Canis lupus), elk (Cervis elaphus), and woody browse conditions during the 20th century for the upper Gallatin elk winter range in southwestern Montana, USA." The article appeared in Forest Ecology and Management in 2004, and this pdf version is electronically archived by Sinapu, an organization "dedicated to the restoration and protection of native carnivores and their wild habitat in the Southern Rockies, and connected high plains and deserts." The article includes sections regarding the Study Area, Methods, Results, and Conclusions. The Results section addresses Long-term Conditions and Trends for Wolves, Elk, Vegetation, and Climate. The article also includes a Discussion segment with subsections for three distinct periods: Pre-1925, Wolves Present; 1925-1995, Wolves Extirpated; and Post-1995, Wolves Reintroduced. [NL]

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: ARGH-Biomedical Acronym Resolver

In an age of mounting data, acronyms have become a necessary form of shorthand. Yet, how does one keep track of all of these acronyms? From the University of Texas Southwestern Computational Biology Group, this "database was constructed in a purely automated manner, using a set of heuristics to identify acronyms/abbreviations and their definitions within MEDLINE records. Currently, it is the world's largest and most comprehensive catalog of biomedical acronyms and abbreviations, containing 221,000 out of an estimated 240,000 unique acronyms within MEDLINE." The database allows users to search for definitions by entering an acronym or abbreviation, as well as to search for acronyms and abbreviations by entering a word or phrase. This site links to several other search tools from the Computational Biology Group as well. [NL]

Museum of Southwestern Biology: Division of Birds-Publications [pdf]

From the Division of Birds at the University of New Mexico's Museum of Southwestern Biology, this website contains a collection of downloadable publications regarding a number of bird species. The publications are all authored (or co-authored) by Robert W. Dickerman, a Research Associate Professor and Acting Curator for the Division of Birds. Professor Dickerman's articles have appeared in such publications as Journal of Raptor Research,Western Birds,Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington,The Southwestern Naturalist, and The AUK between the years 1991 and 2004. Titles found at this site include "A review of the North American subspecies of the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)," "Talon-Locking in the Red-Tailed Hawk," "An Extinct Subspecies of Sharp-Tailed Grouse," and "On the Validity of Bubo virginianus occidentalis Stone," to name a few. [NL]

San Francisco State University: Richmond Bridge Harbor Seal Survey

The Richmond Bridge Harbor Seal Survey (RBHSS) is a collaborative research project between San Francisco State University, and the California Department of Transportation examining possible effects of seismic-related bridge construction on resident harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) in the San Francisco Bay. The RBHSS website provides an overview of the project; brief information about the observation sites, and tracking and tagging activities; and a simple Map of Bay Area Harbor Seal Haul-out and Breeding Sites. The website contains a page with basic information about harbor seals as well. The site also provides a Kids' Page where budding field biologists can attempt to match photos of some of the known resident seals with identification information such as shark-bite scars, and coat patterns. [NL]

International Symbiosis Society [pdf]

The International Symbiosis Society (ISS) "is primarily involved with the promotion of research and education in the growing field of symbiosis. The Society seeks also to build ongoing and useful communication between the many researchers working in the various sub-fields of symbiosis, as well as connect symbiologists to those in other areas of ecology and biological sciences generally." Hosted by Boston University, the ISS website contains information about membership, and the international journal Symbiosis. For authors interested in submitting a manuscript to the journal, the site provides brief, downloadable instructions. In addition, the site links to the websites of Society members working in a variety of areas including Bark Beetles/Fungi, Cyanobacterial Symbioses, Lichens, Marine Symbioses, Mycorhizae, and more. Also, be sure to check out the fascinating images in the Symbiosis Gallery! [NL]


MIT OpenCourseWare: Fields, Forces, and Flows in Biological Systems

Materials from this intriguingly titled Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) course about biological systems are freely available to students, educators, and others through MIT's OpenCourseWare. The course covers a variety of topics including "conduction, diffusion, convection in electrolytes; fields in heterogeneous media; electrical double layers; Maxwell stress tensor and electrical forces in physiological systems; and fluid and sold continua: equations of motion useful for porous, hydrated biological tissues. Case studies considered include membrane transport; electrode interfaces; electrical, mechanical, and chemical transduction in tissues; electrophoretic and electroosmotic flows; diffusion/reaction; and ECG." This OpenCourseWare website provides downloadable notes for 25 lectures; seven downloadable assignments with solutions; and a pdf version of the final exam. The site links to an open, online discussion group for the course as well. [NL]

Palomar College: Biological Basis of Heredity

This online tutorial on the Biological Basis of Heredity was developed by Dennis O'Neil of the Behavioral Sciences Department at Palomar College. The tutorial provides information about five main topics: Basic Cell Structures, Cell Reproduction, Recombination and Linkage, Sex Linked Genes, and Molecular Level of Genetics. Students wishing to review content material from the different topic areas can utilize online flashcards and crossword puzzles, which are also available in printed form. The site also contains a sizeable Glossary of Terms, a selection of related links, and information about tutorial accessibility. In addition, this site links to a number of other physical anthropology tutorials developed by O'Neil. [NL]

PBS-American Field Guide: Primary and Secondary Succession in America's Forests [RealPlayer, Windows Media Player]

From PBS-American Field Guide, this website offers high school educators a multimedia lesson plan on Primary and Secondary Succession in America's Forests. The lesson plan utilizes hyperlinked video clips to introduce students "to several different North American Forests while learning about concepts associated with succession in both natural and disturbed environments." The site contains descriptions of two 30-minute, in-class activities, as well as a slightly longer outdoor observation activity. The concise activity descriptions include needed Materials, Objectives, Teaching Instructions, and Discussion Questions. A few corresponding National Content Standards are also listed. [NL]

Virtual Museum of Canada: Butterflies North and South

This website from the Virtual Museum of Canada introduces budding entomologists and other curious visitors to butterflies and moths found in both Canada and Peru. The site's Gallery allows visitors to peruse images of many beautiful moths and butterflies accompanied by concise descriptive information about Life History, Habitat and Range, Host Plants, Flight Period, and more. Notably, site visitors can choose to display thumbnail images of different butterfly and moth species by Habitat, Families, or Colour. The Teachers and Games section of the site offers a number of classroom activity descriptions, and self-directed educational games for students. The site also has a nice illustrated Questions & Answers section, information about butterfly conservation in Canada and Peru, a sizeable Bibliography, and a helpful Glossary. [NL]

Worm Watch [Macromedia Flash Player]

Worm Watch is part of NatureWatch (first reported on in the May 31, 2002, NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences), which is series of programs--administered collaboratively by the Canadian Nature Federation, the University of Guelph, and the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network--that "encourage schools, community groups, individuals, naturalists, backyard enthusiasts, Scouts and Guides to engage in the monitoring of soil, air, water and other aspects of environmental quality." For students and teachers, the Worm Watch site offers a number of hands-on activities "designed to help participants learn about the role earthworms play in the ecosystem, as well as the care and handling of these organisms." Other site features include an interactive Taxonomic Key for identifying earthworm species, an animated tour of a worm's digestive system, and a Glossary. For Canadian residents, the website provides information about participating in the National Worm Survey. This site is available in both French and English. [NL]

Neurobiology: Animations [Macromedia Flash Player]

From Blackwell Publishing, this entertaining series of animations is part of a companion website for Neurobiology: Molecules, Cells and Systems, a textbook by Gary G. Matthews. The ten instructive and easy-to-understand animations are worth a visit by anyone who has a curiosity about neurobiology. Animation titles include: Mechanosensory Transduction in Hair Cells, Granule Cell Migration Along Radial Glial Cells, Photo isomerization of Rhodopsin, and Propagation of the Action Potential, and more. For visitors lacking Macromedia Flash Player, which is necessary to view these animations, the site provides a link to a free Player download. [NL]

University of Utah: WebVision [QuickTime]

From the John Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, WebVision (first reported on in the August 9, 2002, NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences) is an extensive hypertext that attempts "to summarize the recent advances in knowledge and understanding of the mammalian retina." Three newer sections have been integrated into the online textbook in recent months. A subsection on S-Potentials and Horizontal Cells was added to the Anatomy and Physiology of the Retina section, and sections on Regeneration in the Visual System of Adult Mammals, and Fetal Tissue Allografts in the Central Visual System of Rodents were added as well. The text sections include helpful diagrams and images, as well as extensive reference listings. Other major sections of the WebVision hypertext include Retinal Circuits, Color Vision, Psychophysics of Vision, Primary Visual Cortex, and more. [NL]

Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Conservation Central [pdf]

Presented by the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Fujifilm, this website offers a suite of fun, online activities designed to educate middle school students about habitat conservation. In one site activity, participants travel to central China to "help make decisions about a fictional forest reserve." In another activity, visitors conduct scientific research in an eastern US forest using a variety of tools and methods. A third activity enables site visitors to design a zoo habitat for giant pandas. For educators, the website supplies a cohesive curriculum which aligns with national science standards. For families, the site offers a collection of downloadable activity ideas such as Nature Drawing, and creating a Family Conservation Action Plan. [NL]


BumblebeeID: Guide to British Bumble Bees [pdf]

This Guide to British Bumble Bees is presented by the Natural History Museum in London. For beginners, the site offers the Quick Guide to the Big Six Species which "are widespread and abundant throughout most of lowland Britain." The Quick Guide is also available in a downloadable Wallet Card format for easy reference. The site contains concise, descriptive information about all British bumble bee species including B. lapidarius (aka Stone Humble-bee), B. rupestris (aka Hill Cuckoo-bee), B. terrestris (aka Large Earth Humble-bee), B. pratorum (aka Early-nesting Humble-bee), and more. In addition, the website offers a clever system for identifying species by color pattern. Site visitors will also find an interesting segment on the Distribution and Decline of British Bumble Bees. [NL]

Penn State: Plant Pathology Fact Sheets

This selection of online fact sheets concerned with plant diseases was compiled by Professor Gary W. Moorman, a Professor of Plant Pathology at Penn State. The concise fact sheets address "common diseases of plants frequently grown in greenhouses, interiorscapes, and in outdoor landscapes and nurseries in the northeastern U.S." The sheets are organized under categories for Woody Ornamental, and Floral and Foliage Plants, as well as a General Information category. Factsheets address such diseases as Bacterial Leaf Scorch, Pythium Root Rot, Botrytis Blight, Rhizoctonia, and more. There are sheets for a wide variety of plants and trees including Iris, Tulip, Maple, and Oak, to name a few. [NL]

Environmental Research Foundation [pdf, doc]

The Environmental Research Foundation (ERF) provides "understandable scientific information about the influence of toxic substances on human health and the environment." ERF aims to inform journalists, community activists, librarians, environmentalists, and others concerned with toxins and environmental justice. The ERF site contains an online library of pertinent documents under such categories as agriculture & food security, global concerns, chemicals & health, human rights, and more. ERF also offers a database of related sites under the categories of biodiversity, cancer, children/youth, and food safety, to name a few. Site visitors can sign up for a free electronic subscription to the informative Rachel's Environment & Health News (named in honor of renowned ecologist Rachel Carson). A Spanish-language edition of the publication is available as well. The website is also available in both Spanish and English. [NL]

Algae: The Forgotten Treasure of Tidepools

Hosted by the Department of Biology at Sonoma State University, this informal website explores the fascinating world of algae through a collection of different alga images. The website's three modest galleries feature seaweeds of the Green (Chlorophyta), Red (Rhodophyta), and Brown (Phaeophyta) varieties. Site visitors will find smallish images of such algal species as Ulva taeniata, Nereocystis luetkeana (aka Bullwhip Kelp), Egregia menziesii (aka Feathered Boa), and Pikea robusta. The images are accompanied by brief, and sometimes droll, annotations. [NL]

Canadian Museum of Nature: Native Plant Crossroads

This site was developed by the Canadian Museum of Nature's Canadian Centre for Biodiversity to promote citizen-based biodiversity conservation efforts. The site will be particularly useful to gardeners and others who have just begun to take an interest in native plantings and other similar conservation efforts. For example, the site provides brief descriptions of a number of conservation-minded planting activities such as Butterfly Gardening, Native Plant Gardening, Organic Gardening, Rooftop Gardening, and Wildlife Gardening. For different activity sections, the site provides links to related resources. Site visitors will also find a useful annotated list of related organizations in Canada and elsewhere. For residents of Canada, the site posts a number of pertinent events such as Native Orchid Conservation Field Trips in Manitoba. The website is available in French and English, and contains a Glossary as well. [NL]

National Organization for Rare Disorders: Index of Rare Diseases

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a nonprofit "federation of voluntary health organizations dedicated to helping people with rare 'orphan' diseases and assisting the organizations that serve them. NORD is committed to the identification, treatment, and cure of rare disorders through programs of education, advocacy, research, and service." In accordance with their educational commitment, NORD provides this extensive online Index of Rare Diseases. The alphabetized Index contains entries on hundreds of diseases. Entries include brief descriptions, disease synonyms when available, and links to any related organizations. NORD also maintains a Rare Disease Database, as well as an Organizational Database, and Index of Organizations. [NL]

The Kirby Wolfe Saturniidae Collection

Treat your eyes to this wonderful collection of images featuring Saturniidae (aka silkmoths) captured by expert Lepidoptera photographer Kirby Wolfe. Hosted by the Insect Company, this website exhibits many exquisite photographs of silkmoths and caterpillars. Highlighting the geographic range of Saturniidae, the website presents photographs taken in many areas of the world including parts of the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Numerous species are represented in this collection including Actias isis, Aglia tau, Caligula japonica, Rothschildia erycina, Vegetia ducalis, Saturnia walterorum, and many more. The species are arranged alphabetically by scientific name. [NL]

Community Food Security Coalition [pdf]

The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) is a nonprofit "North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times." The CFSC website provides information about several programs such as Farm to School, Farm to College, and the California Food and Justice Coalition. For visitors in search of funding, the site contains information about the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program. The website also contains an annotated list of CFSC Guidebooks and Reports, some of which are available in pdf. In addition, site visitors will find information about upcoming events; different CFSC Member Committees; and a great selection of links concerning Urban Agriculture/Community Gardens, Anti-Hunger, Nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture, and more. [NL]

Topic In Depth

Harvesting the Rain

Rain Gardens of West Michigan
City of Maplewood: Rainwater Gardens
University of Arizona: Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use
University of Wisconsin-Extension: Rain Gardens
Center for Watershed Protection: How to Build and Install a Rain Barrel
Collecting and Utilizing Rainfall Runoff
LID Sustainable School Projects: Teacher Section

Rain harvesting has experienced a bit of a renaissance in recent years through the promotion and installation of rain gardens and rain barrels. These water collection mechanisms help to curb erosion and the spread of pollution; conserve precious freshwater; and support water-loving plants. This Topic in Depth presents websites and electronic publications containing instructive and descriptive information about rain gardens and barrels. The first (1) site comes from Rain Gardens of West Michigan, "an environmental education program on stormwater education, and on the values of using rain gardens and native plants in the landscape to improve urban and suburban water quality." This site offers downloadable instructions for creating rain gardens, and making rain barrels. The second (2) site, from the City of Maplewood, Minn., promotes the use of rain gardens and features a 15-page, downloadable Maplewood Rainwater Gardens Planting and Care Guide, and a list of recommended plants. Although the site is designed for Minnesota residents, some of the information will be useful in other areas as well. For a look at rainwater conservation in an arid region, the third (3) site contains an archived publication titled Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use by Patricia H. Waterfall, an Extension Agent at the University of Arizona Cooperative. From the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the fourth (4) site contains two instructive, downloadable rain garden publications. The first publication serves as an introduction to rain gardens and the second is a detailed, 32-page manual providing "homeowners and landscape professionals with the information needed to design and build rain gardens on residential lots." The fifth (5) site, from the Center for Watershed Protection, contains a brief, illustrated brochure on How to Build and Install a Rain Barrel. From the Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District in Virginia, the sixth (6) site contains a 32-page, downloadable publication titled Collecting and Utilizing Rainfall Runoff: A Homeowner's Manual of Ideas for Harvesting Rainwater. The final (7) site, from the Low Impact Development Sustainable School Projects, offers information to educators about installing rain gardens and rain barrels with their students. [NL]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2005. 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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