The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - October 28, 1998

The Scout Report for Science & Engineering

October 28, 1998

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

The target audience of the new Scout Report for Science & Engineering is faculty, students, staff, and librarians in the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. Each biweekly issue offers a selective collection of Internet resources covering topics in the sciences, and related fields such as math and engineering, that have been chosen by librarians and content specialists in the given field of study.

The Scout Report for Science & Engineering is also provided via email once every two weeks. Subscription information is included at the bottom of each issue.

In This Issue
* Research * Current Awareness
* Learning Resources * New Data
* General Interest * In the News
Ecoregions of the United States--USFS
Ecological Subregions of the United States--USFS
The electronic (interactive) version of a 1994 publication by the US Forest Service (USFS), these companion sites are based on the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units, designed to provide "a standardized method for classifying, mapping, and describing ecological units" in the US. The first site, "Ecoregions of the United States," contains three simple color maps of the United States (including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico) showing generalized ecological boundaries. At the coarsest spatial scale, the Ecosystem Domains map delineates Dry, Humid Temperate, and Humid Tropical Domains. At the intermediate scale, an Ecosystem Divisions map delineates more than a dozen ecosystem types, ranging from tundra to rainforest. At the finest scale, over 50 Ecosystem Provinces are delineated. By clicking on a color type for any map (i.e., an ecosystem type), users may access further information on the abiotic and biotic characteristics within that ecosystem. A companion site, Ecological Subregions of the United States, contains the biophysical descriptions for the color-coded maps. This is a solid resource for anyone seeking broad ecosystem classifications for the United States. [LXP]
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Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
Well known by remote sensing scientists around the world, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) maintains the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS), providing earth photos for environmental management and global research applications. ISRO has more than this to offer; its objectives include the development of launch vehicles, such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), as well as the development of sounding rockets and supporting ground systems. The homepage provides background information on ISRO's history, space programs and services, partnerships and international relationships. Visitors can find summaries in the Recent Events section; future missions and planned developments are highlighted in the Decade Plan section. [SN]
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ExPASy Proteomics Tools
New from the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) Genome Center, ExPASy Proteomics Tools is a comprehensive collection of protein-related databases and services for researchers. Listed and briefly described at the site are a wide variety of research tools allowing users to: identify a protein by its amino acid composition; translate a nucleotide sequence to a protein sequence; conduct similarity, pattern and profile searches; determine physico-chemical parameters of a protein sequence; color an amino acid sequence; predict protein secondary structure; analyze and superimpose protein 3D structures (tertiary structure); predict transmembrane regions in prokaryotes; and align protein sequences -- to name a few. [LXP]
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Department of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University
The McMaster University Department of Physics and Astronomy (Canada) conducts research in a variety of subjects, including astrophysics, health and radiation/medical physics, and optoelectronic materials and devices. Each of the subject area's homepages describes the current research being conducted and links to the active professors and students performing the research. In addition, users can consult the proceedings of meetings, databases, preprints, and other online resources. [KH]
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Journal of Lipid Research (JLR)
HighWire Press
The Journal of Lipid Research (JLR), from Lipid Research, Inc., publishes "original articles and invited reviews on subjects involving lipids in any scientific discipline, including clinical and morphological studies." Online full-text content begins with the January 1998 issue, and will expand with each month's new issues. Online abstracts begin with the July 1965 issue. Note that the free trial period for JLR will extend through January 31, 1999. The site is produced in conjunction with Stanford University's HighWire Press. [LXP]
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WorldAtom gathers a host of resources containing nuclear information into one easily navigated site. Provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), WorldAtom links users to an image database, information on nuclear energy, safety and safeguards, and research and isotopes. Other links connect users to online products, the agency's meetings, job vacancies, programs, and books. [KH]
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Learning Resources
Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (CELS)
The Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences (CELS) is "a national coalition of professional societies in the biological sciences that have joined together in an effort to improve undergraduate education in the life sciences." To that end, the CELS site serves as a wonderful central resource for undergraduate science education information. The site's four main sections include: Educational Activities Links (a list of links to dozens of undergraduate education resources); Educational Organizations (select web sites of "the leading national organizations and professional societies"); Bio 101 Framework (an issues-based framework for introductory biology curricula), and CELS Monograph, a new section that highlights a CELS report entitled "Professional Biological Societies as Communities of and for Faculty Scholars: Opportunities and Challenges." The report includes essays, showcases and "an Issues-Based Framework for Bio 101." [LXP]
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Created by Steffen Weber, a Science and Technology Agency Fellow at the National Institute for Research in Inorganic Materials (NIRIM), this page provides a well-executed overview of quasicrystals. The guide begins with a description of quasicrystals, and then delves into topics such as higher dimensional space, diffraction pattern symmetries, and experimental techniques. The appendix includes a glossary, books titles, review articles, software, additional sites, and research groups. [KH]
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EPA Grant-Writing Tutorial [frames]
This recent site from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a solid grant-writing resource, particularly for those seeking federal funds. Free for download at the site (self-extracting zipfile), the tutorial includes an Introduction, Writing Tips, Program Specifics, Mock Grant-Writing Activity, Examples (for each section of the proposal), Forms, References, Resources/Contacts, and a Glossary. A special feature allows users to access current funding opportunities at the EPA. [LXP]
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River Studies Homepage
The Marquette University High School Science Club is concerned about the water quality of the rivers and streams in the Milwaukee River watershed. The River Studies project homepage provides information on determining water quality via aquatic invertebrate and chemical analyses. The site also lists the results of water quality testing performed on various Wisconsin rivers. Links to the Watershed Newsletter, Testing the Waters participants, and Project FIRST members complete the site. [KH]
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Animal Omnibus
Designed with children in mind, the Birmingham Zoo's Animal Omnibus site is "a list of web sources indexed by the name of the animal." Users search by animal name to get returns in the form of hyperlinked resource lists. The resource lists contain sites ranging from simple color photographs of individual species to sites steeped in scientific classification to publicly targeted zoo sites. Animal Omnibus may also be browsed by generic name within each taxonomic category (amphibians, arthropods, birds, dinosaurs, fish, mammals, mollusks, and reptiles). Although depth of content varies widely, this unique and diverse collection of information types is at once unpredictable and refreshing. [LXP]
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General Interest
Flora of China
This magnificent resource, from the Harvard University Herbaria, offers an online glimpse into China's tremendous botanical diversity. With a land area similar to that of the US, China boasts nearly 15% of the world's plant species. All vascular plants of China are (or will be) covered here, including "brief descriptions, identification keys, essential synonymy, phenology, provincial distributions in China, brief statements on extra-Chinese distributions, and remarks regarding the circumscription of problematic taxa." Also provided are many beautiful illustrations and photographs. The Flora of China is an English-language revision of the Flora Republicae Popularis Sinicae (FRPS), "with taxonomy reflecting the current understanding of each group." Note that the sequence of families is "a modified Englerian system." Access to all parts of the Flora of China site is restricted to non-commercial users only. [LXP]
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SHEBA: Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean
The Ice Station SHEBA (Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean) has just completed one year of being frozen into the Arctic ice, while gathering information to improve climate modeling. When sea ice is formed there are important changes in polar and global climate processes. Scientists from the US, Russia, Norway, and Canada are collaborating on the SHEBA project, a 5-year National Science Foundation research project. Although not all sections of the site are current, the SHEBA homepage offers background information, data, and updates of research on the Ice Station SHEBA, as well as links to other ice- or climate-related sites. [LXP]
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Life Sciences Data Archive (LSDA)
Looking for a description of every life sciences experiment performed in space (during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle, and NASA-Mir programs)? Students, educators, and space enthusiasts will appreciate this recent contribution from NASA, offering detailed descriptions, information and data on space flight experiments, space life sciences, and NASA missions. The 'Overview of Life Sciences Missions and Research' section offers general information and images, with links to the searchable database, 'Master Catalog,' and to an internal glossary of terms. Data may be downloaded from the Master Catalog. The 'Digital Image Library' is a searchable database of images from life sciences experiments and missions. A set of space life science links can be found in the 'Related Resources' section. For the younger learners, follow links to the 'Just for Kids' companion site, where users will find activities about space flight and space life sciences. [LXP]
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The Jordanian Astronomical Society (JAS)
Formerly known as the 'Jordanian Amateur Astronomers Society,' the Jordanian Astronomical Society (JAS) organizes Scientific Astronomical Days, Astronomical Camps, Star Nights, Astronomy Clubs, and Astrofests. At the JAS homepage, users will find a wealth of information ranging from general information (including an astronomical glossary and graphics of astronomical principles), articles, and data, to an annotated calendar of upcoming sky events. Students and educators may wish to browse the 'Coordinates of Planets' section, providing coordinate locations of planets during the upcoming months. Also of interest is the newly updated 'Meteors' section, containing descriptions of meteor events, how to 'observe meteors by radio,' and many links to related sites. [SN]
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Papers from NAS Colloquia [.pdf]
At this site, viewers will find listings and full text (.pdf format) of scientific papers presented at 1996, 1997 and 1998 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) colloquia. Topics of colloquia reflect cutting-edge science, are very diverse, and range from 'Computational Biomolecular Science,' 'Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change,' and 'Genetics and the Origin of Species,' to 'The Age of the Universe, Dark Matter, and Structure Formation,' among others. [LXP]
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Current Awareness
(For links to additional current awareness on tables of contents, abstracts, preprints, new books, data, conferences, etc., visit the Science & Engineering Current Awareness Metapage:

John Glenn Returns to Space
In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. Now, three and a half decades later and at the age of 77, Glenn returns to space. At the Discovery Online site, general information describes the mission and its crew and updates are continually provided on the status of the launch. Several live broadcasts are in the works; tune in for live coverage of the shuttle launch on Thursday, Oct. 29, 1:30-2:30 P.M. (ET). [LXP]
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Water Resources News--USGS
The Water Resources division of the US Geological Service provides this water news resource, tracking current water-related events and recent publications from across the US. Recent news items include: flooding in Texas, the impacts of Hurricane Bonnie, the release of a USGS report on water use in the US, and stream-flow data from Puerto Rico, to name a few. [LXP]
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New Publications
Wetlands and Agriculture: Private Interests and Public Benefits--ERS [.pdf]
This report, from the Economic Research Service, examines the differences between private and public incentives regarding wetlands. Central to the report is the recognition that society has recently increased the value it places on wetland services, from water quality improvement and flood control to wildlife habitat, and recreation. The report (.pdf format) "assesses the need for continued wetlands protection policies as the United States approaches achieving the goal of 'no net loss' of wetlands." [LXP]

Digital Mapping Techniques 1998: Workshop Proceedings--USGS
More than 80 selected technical representatives participated in the Digital Mapping Techniques '98 workshop, which was convened by the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) and the US Geological Survey (USGS) and hosted by the Illinois State Geological Survey. At the site users will find the proceedings of the workshop, including 23 papers and several short summaries covering methods on data capture, data management, and digital map production. The goal of the conference was "to help move the state surveys and the USGS toward development of more cost-effective, flexible, and useful systems for digital mapping and GIS analysis." Instructions for paper copy requests are also provided on site. [SN]

User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations--NSF
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has placed online this Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations. The handbook builds on a 1993 publication entitled 'User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation: Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education,' which emphasized techniques for producing quantitative data. The recent Handbook "seeks to introduce a broader perspective," providing more information on qualitative techniques and the effective integration with quantitative measures. Note that, "like the earlier publication, this handbook is aimed at users who need practical rather than technically sophisticated advice about evaluation methodology." This useful handbook is organized as a series of chapters, including text, tables, references, an annotated bibliography, and a glossary. [LXP]

European Environmental Education Newsletter
After being on hiatus for a year, the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg has reintroduced the European Environmental Education Newsletter (EEEN) in electronic form. The newsletter provides educators with the latest information on events in environmental education. The newsletter includes conferences, meetings, projects, and publications. [KH]

Proceedings of the Conference on Mercury in Eastern Canada and the Northeast States--EMAN
The Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) has posted the Proceedings from the September 21-23, 1998 Conference on "Mercury in Eastern Canada and the Northeast States" at this site. Held in New Brunswick, Canada, the conference covered a wide array of topics, including ecosystem science (Mercury Biogeochemistry, deposition, uptake, etc.), human health, and policy and pollution prevention. Users may browse the table of contents, conference agenda, and abstracts on line. [LXP]

Academia Book Releases--Baker & Taylor--November 1998
Baker & Taylor has announced their book releases for titles scheduled to be available to the public in November 1998. New titles are available in Agricultural Sciences; Biological Sciences; Chemical, Biotechnological, and Petroleum Engineering; Earth Sciences; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mathematical Sciences; Mechanical Engineering; and Technology and Material Sciences. See the Science & Engineering Current Awareness Meta Page for links to individual new books sections. [SN]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from the Chronicle of Higher Education

This online database lists international career opportunities especially for geoscientists, hydrologists, marine scientists, archaeologists, ecologists, and soil scientists, but includes other science fields as well. EARTHWORKS, entirely free, provides current listings by subject heading or location (North America, UK/Europe/Africa, Australia/Pacific). Also at the site is information on how to post resumes or announce job openings. [LXP]
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Next Generation Software (NGS)--NSF
The Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a new initiative, entitled 'Next Generation Software (NGS),' to support multidisciplinary (group-oriented or single investigator) research for Fiscal Year 1999. NGS "will support research for methods and tools leading to the development of performance frameworks for modeling, measurement, analysis, evaluation and prediction of performance of complex computing and communications systems, and of the applications executing on such systems; ... and research on novel software for the development and run-time support of complex applications executing on complex computing platforms." Letters of intent are due December 15, 1998; proposals are due January 12, 1999. [LXP]

Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP): Wind-Driven Transport Processes in the NE Pacific--NSF [.pdf or ASCII]
The Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced funding opportunities to study wind-driven transport processes in the Northeast Pacific. An interdisciplinary program, Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP) seeks "to obtain a quantitative understanding of the processes that control the transport, transformation and fate of biological, geological and chemical materials on continental margins." Proposals are due March 15, 1999. [LXP]

National Science Foundation Guide to Programs FY 99
For researchers seeking funding in a given area of science, the NSF Guide to Programs is "a compilation of funding opportunities for research and education in science, mathematics, and engineering" for Fiscal Year 1999. Organized by Directorate, the searchable site points users to discipline-specific sections, where available NSF funding is described in general terms. At the end of each section, users may link to specific funding opportunities. [LXP]
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EOGEO99: Earth Observation (EO) & Geo-Spatial (GEO) Web and Internet Workshop '99
To be held from February 9-11 1999 in Silver Spring, Maryland, this workshop "will bring together developers of Web and Internet based systems for Earth Observation, Global change, GIS and other geo-referenced data." The specific objective of the workshop will be "to discuss the rapid developments in Web technology relating to the interfacing, searching and accessing of geo-spatial data, catalogs via the Web and related Internet technologies." Deadline for abstract submission is December 10, 1998. [LXP]

Geometry, Analysis and Mathematical Physics: Conference
The purpose of this conference will be "to review recent developments on symplectic geometry, contact geometry and Floer homology, Gromov-Witten invariants and mirror symmetry, Donaldson and Seiberg-Witten invariants, symplectic analysis in infinite dimensions, and moduli spaces." The conference will be held from 4-9 June 1999, in Obernai, France (near Strasbourg). Application forms (due 15 February 1999) are available online. [LXP]

Nature, Society and History: Long Term Dynamics of Social Metabolism
This international conference (conducted in English) will emphasize the "Long Term Dynamics of Social Metabolism ... (and) will review and assess the long-run performance of human societies in their relations with the environment." The conference will be held from September 30 to October 2, 1999, in Vienna, Austria. Deadline for submission of abstracts (for oral presentation) is February 1 1999; the deadline for poster presentations is March 1 1999. Additional conference information is provided at the site. [LXP]
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New Data
Catalogue of the Type Specimens of the Dutch Herbaria
Now online is the first update of a computerized catalogue of 40,000 botanical Type Specimens, an impressive resource from the four largest herbaria in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht and Wageningen). The catalogue database is searchable by taxonomic level (family, genus, species), author, collector, year, country, locality, or vernacular. Search returns apply specifically to each specimen and vary accordingly, but descriptive fields include: field notes, vegetation, and economic use, in addition to location, collector, specimen number, and herbarium address. Complementing the incredible amount of information presented in this catalogue, 70% of all type specimens are accompanied by a digital image of the specimen. Though not for the beginning student, this database may be a gold mine for taxonomic botanists and educators. [LXP]
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Marine Geology & Geophysics Images [GIF, JPG, MPEG]
The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division (MGG) of the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC/NOAA, discussed in the January 17, 1997 Scout Report) "compiles and maintains extensive bathymetric, marine sediment, and trackline geophysical databases" in coastal and open ocean areas. To this end, MGG offers (free for download) these spectacular color images (GIF, JPG, MPEG) of "Gridded Bathymetry of Continental Margins; Global Relief; Estimated Topography from Satellite Altimetry; Ocean Crustal Age; Great Lakes Geomorphology; Marianas Trench Animation; and Total Sediment Thickness of the Oceans," among others. A special section entitled "Posters & Slide Sets" provides additional image data. [LXP]
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Nighttime Lights of the World
Derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), these fascinating satellite-based images show a global inventory of human settlements around the world. The black and white images are given at two spatial scales: planetary or continental. References are provided for details behind the algorithms and data set production. [KH]
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Lake Tahoe Data Clearinghouse
The US Forest Service, Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS), the USGS, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have worked together to provide the public with Lake Tahoe Basin data. Data include digital information from the USGS and watershed information from the EPA. Other data are available from regional agencies. Soils data from the NRCS are currently not available but are expected by the end of 1998. [KH]
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In the News
The Disruption of Coastal Food Webs
1. Killer Whales Feed on Sea Otters, Pushing Coastal Ecosystems Off Kilter
2. Whales Eat Sea Otters, Showing How Events Are Linked
3. Sea otters declining
4. Groups file suit to protect Steller sea lion
5. Trophic Pyramids and Food Webs
6. Lloyd Center: Marine Food Webs [frames]
7. Fishing Down Marine Food Webs: An Interview with Dr. Daniel Pauly
8. EcoSpace: Prediction of Mesoscale Spatial Patterns in Trophic Relationships of Exploited Ecosystems
9. Lesser Snow Geese and the Trophic Cascade
This week's In The News addresses recent findings (published in the October 16, 1998 issue of Science) that killer whale predation on sea otters in the North Pacific has "created an ecological chain reaction in nearshore ecosystems." Such ecological chain reactions refer to the disruption of the complex balance between predator and prey species. Killer whales, which traditionally fed on the (now scarce) Steller sea lions and harbor seals, have recently shifted their diet to sea otters. The resulting decline in sea otters has, in turn, led to an increase in sea urchins (sea otter prey), which in turn have deforested many kelp (seaweed) beds in the nearshore marine community. Although killer whales are playing a critical role in the current disruption, this chain of interactions "was probably initiated by anthropogenic changes in the offshore oceanic ecosystem" -- namely, the region's burgeoning fisheries, higher ocean temperatures, and the depletion of baleen whales. Similar "trophic cascades" have been well documented for lakes and in other systems (e.g. Snow Geese in the Arctic), but this research provides a new example of a disrupted food web that may reach a wider audience -- as it involves several highly charismatic vertebrates. The nine resources above describe the recent scientific findings, provide background information on food webs, and offer several resources for understanding ecological (trophic) chain reactions.

The first two resources, from University of California Santa Cruz (1) and the daily news source UniSci (2), describe how killer whale predation on sea otters is disrupting coastal ecosystems in the North Pacific. Declining numbers of sea otters (3) and of Steller sea lions (4) are discussed in these two articles from the Environmental News Network. For background information on food webs, this course page (5) from Okanagan University College, British Colombia (Canada), offers a formal explanation of food webs; a more informal (but photo-illustrated and interactive) description is provided for the K-12 level by the Lloyd Center (6). overfishing by humans is one of the suggested causes behind the shift in killer whale feeding (from seals to otters). This webpage, from naturalSCIENCE, summarizes a recent important article on the far-reaching impacts of overfishing (7). At this site, a recent scientific article (8) from cutting-edge ecosystem scientists Drs. Carl Walters and Daniel Pauly describes EcoSpace, "an exploratory tool for analysis of trophic and spatial relationships." The EcoSpace model may be used, in part, to evaluate the ecosystem consequences of overfishing (see the February 18, 1988 Scout Report for Science & Engineering). (9) An example of a non-oceanic trophic cascade is provided by the American Museum of Natural History in this annotated slide-show on Lesser Snow Geese. [LXP]
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