Scott's Botanical Links--April 2005


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April 29, 2005 - Classification of Life on Earth at Iziko Museums
Iziko Museums of Cape Town has constructed a massive outline of a web site that will eventually include links to all major groups of plants, animals, fungi and more. Currently, just a fraction are linked, but hopefully this will expand. The amount that is complete, however, is impressive. Links through images are usually just other images, but there is depth in the linked words that goes down to the species level. The images are high quality and the systematics appears to be agressively updated. This is an excellent site for its overview of systematics. (***1/2) -SR
April 28, 2005 - Virginia Tech: Weed Identification Guide
Virginia Tech's Weed Identification Guide has numerous images of the most common weeds listed by common or scientific name, with resources from the Weed Control Guide, Extension Publications, an Aquatic Weeds guide, a Weed Key for Grasses and Weed I.D. References. Specialized compilations feature Garden Weeds, Pasture and Hayfield Weeds, Turfgrass Weeds, Landscape and Nursery Weeds, Right-of-way and Roadside Weeds, Aquatic Weeds and Wildflowers. If you recognize the plants already, this is a great site for confirming their identity. Each plant typically as a number of images. If you do not know the scientific or common name, you will need to key them out--but there is a key on site. (***) -SR
April 27, 2005 - Atlas of medicinal plants by Daniel Haake
Atlas of medicinal plants includes images of about 120 seed plants, with considerable additional information provided by PubMed and GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network). These sites integrate data on common names (numerous languages), distribution, economic importance, references, and a variety of other links. This metadata set is a reasonable first step in obtaining research information about the plants covered from original sources. Images are on site, but other contributions are largely in databases of others. (***1/2) -SR
April 26, 2005 - Science Toys
Science Toys celebrates the science all around us, evident through using inexpensive scientific devices--in other words, toys. Topics include magnetism, electromagnetism, electrochemistry, radio, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, light and optics, biology, mathematics, computers and electronics. Many devices can be build in a few minutes with some special supplies. For biologists, topics include photography through the microscope, video through the microscope, listening to electric fish and using a video camera as a microscope. There are detailed web pages of examples and explanations. (***) -SR
April 25, 2005 - Iconotheca Botanica: Plant images collection of the Herbarium of Moscow University
This collection of plant images includes illustrations from David Nathanael Friedrich Dietrich (Forst-Flora oder Abbildung und Beschreibung der für den Forstmann wichtigen wild-wachsenden Bäume und Sträucher, so wie der Nützlichen und Schädlichen Kräuter), 1860; P.W. Watson (Dendrologia Britannica, or trees and shrubs that will live in the open air of Britain throughout the year. A work useful to proprietors and possessors of estates), 1825; and Otto Wilhelm Thomé (Flora von Deutschland: Österreich und der Schweiz in Wort und Bild für Schule und Haus.), 1886-89. These colored drawings illustrate selected plants, some of medicinal importance. (***) -SR
April 22, 2005 - EPA: Earth Day
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across America celebrated the first Earth Day. This EPA site describes activities and accomplishments in this 35th celebration of Earth Day. As they point out, there really has been much progress: rivers in the US no longer catch fire and there are significant reforms in our use of pesticides and pollution standards. As a celebration, Earth Day helps focus interest on improving the environment. I attended the first one when I was a high school student in Wisconsin. I spent the day at my local university as a delegate and I would have to say it made quite an impression. As population expands, paying attention to the state of the Earth seems even more relevant. -SR
April 21, 2005 - Mycolog: Fungi -The Fifth Kingdom
This site features over 800 images of fungi as a companion to the compact mycological encyclopedia, The Fifth Kingdom. Images include mushrooms, mycorrhizas, medical mycology, yeasts, lichens, food spoilage, fermented foods, plant diseases, symbioses with animals, and edible, poisonous, and hallucinogenic fungi. The site has an informative FAQ and detailed sites on the groups of fungi, their interactions, and ecology, with images. This site is the work of Bryce Kendrick, author of The Fifth Kingdom. (****) -SR
April 20, 2005 - Kirstenbosch: Plant of the Week
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden sponsors a very informative plant-of-the-week site, featuring currently flowering plants. The weekly write-ups include detailed descriptions, common names (tribal, Afrikaans and English), distribution, ecology, derivation, uses, and references. Provided illustrations are quite nice and provide a good impression of some of the species that they display, which are not often seen on other continents except in exotic collections. Links are also provided to other South African garden sites. Site by Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa. (****) -SR
April 19, 2005 - AmiGO! Your friend in the Gene Ontology
This is an in-depth research link that reports on the functions of essentially all proteins and genes at the current state-of-the-art. This site, organized by the Gene Ontology Consortium, is a metadatabase that includes genes and gene characterizations in those plants and animals for which either the genome or a significant suite of expressed genes (ESTs) are available. This burgeoning database demonstrates effectively the current depth of information in functional genomics and the other -omics as well. An essential resource for those looking at gene expression and function, updated frequently. (****)
April 18, 2005 - CIA World Factbook
The World Factbook contains reference materials on the various countries and political entities around the world, as assembled by the Central Intelligence Agency, accurate usually to the year. Contents are available free (including the whole book if you have a high bandwidth connection) and include maps, cultural and economic information, flags, genereal information about each country and its culture. Needless to say, there is a lot of information here that is not relevant to botany, but if you have a plant endemic to a given country, you want to find out something about its politics before you go there. This is a useful general reference. -SR
April 15, 2005 - Jardin d'Oiseaux Tropicaux
Jardin d'Oiseaux Tropicaux, or the Garden of Tropical Birds, contains collections of over 90 species of birds and 600 species of plants. The site is exclusively French, but it is easy to find the collections of yuccas, cactuses, and palms by their scientific names. The actual garden is in La Londe-les-Maures on the French Mediterranean (Cote d'Azur) near Marseille. It is the location of the French national collections of yuccas and cactuses. A number of images of parrots and plants are provided. (***) -SR
April 14, 2005 - Vascular Flora of Madison County, Texas
The Vascular Flora of Madison County provides a detailed record of county plants, their distribution and vegetation, both for the present and future generations. This provides an excellent model and may well prove to be essential in understanding local change in the future. The plant list can be browsed by family, division/class or genus. Additional links provide county maps, geology, soils, drainage, vegetation, species endemic to Texas, invasive non-native species, plant images and more. Site by Amanda K. Neill, Department of Biology Herbarium, Texas A&M University. (****) -SR
April 13, 2005 - Gecko GrassWorlds
Gecko GrassWorlds is a Java-based grassland simulator that puts plants, grasshoppers and spiders into conflict. By tweaking numerous parameters of longevity, growth, death, predation and reproduction (among others), users can modify the stability and sustainability of the region. Gecko GrassWorlds provides pop-up graphic screens displaying populations and biomass, with plants drawn on the main page. The goal is to produce a stable environment, and it is not easy. Buttons provide documentation, help and references. This implementation is provided by Ginger Booth, Center for Computational Ecology, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies. (****) -SR
April 12, 2005 - Kurtz-Fernhout Software: Garden with Insight
"Garden with Insight" is free garden simulation software that runs on many PCs (from old to new). A 600+ page online help system is available to examine the parameters that may be changed, including nutrient cycling, pH, soil porosity, movement of water through the soil, photosynthesis, leaf area index, heat unit index, and plant competition for water and nutrients. Years of gardening can be simulated in minutes. The young may be more demanding on the graphics but Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz have worked on this software for years and it has an ability to simulate a lot of garden conditions. It hasn't been improved recently, but I did say it was free, right? (***1/2) -SR
April 11, 2005 - NOVA: Garden of Eden
A companion to this week's episode on the PBS television science show NOVA, this site describes island biogeography of the Seychelles--a sparsely-populated ancient atoll located about 1000 kilometers northeast of Madagascar. This site discusses how the Seychelles magpie robin population was rebuilt from 16 remaining individuals, deconstructing Pangea, plate tectonics, Darwin's theory of atolls, Birdlife Seychelles, track the Voyage of the Odyssey and island geography (with maps). Check local listings for times. (***1/2) -S
April 8, 2005 - Kyrk: Cell Biology Animations
John Kyrk has developed browser-based animations providing coverage of many standard topics of cell biology that are covered in general biology classes, including cell function, cell anatomy, membranes, chromosome structure, diffusion, DNA, Krebs cycle, mitosis, and photosynthesis, to name about 1/3 of the topics. Animations are accurate, visually appealing and well constructed. As the author observes, animation has tremendous impact on attention span, noting that even the worst TV commercials are better than a static ad. This site requires Macromedia Flash Player to see the animations, which are free online and available for purchase on CD. (****) -SR
April 7, 2005 - DEEMY: Characterization and DEtermination of EctoMYcorrhizae
As the site states, "Ectomycorrhizae are mutualistic structures formed by fungi and the roots of forest trees. They are predominantly found in the temperate and boreal climate zones but occur also in humid tropic regions, as well as in soils of poor nutrition. Without mycorrhizae, trees would not be able to take up water and minerals." DEEMY is an expert information system for determination and characterization of ectomycorrhizae. Descriptions and images may be browsed by species names or searched, providing an incredible wealth of data. Compiled and edited by Reinhard Agerer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Gerhard Rambold, Universität Bayreuth. (****) -SR
April 6, 2005 - Carnegie Plant Cell Imaging
A specialty of the Ehrhardt laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Stanford is developing molecular imaging tools for cell biology. By linking fluorescent probes (e.g., green fluorescent protein) to selected molecules of cellular interest, like the tubulin that makes microtubules, cytoskeletal events can be directly imaged in living cells using a confocal microscope. This site features Quicktime movies on microtubule and organelle dynamics, including cell division, microtubule movements, cell wall formation to name a few of the many events imaged. The site also features techniques used, protocols, rationales and top-level papers in which they originally reported this work. (****) -SR
April 5, 2005 - Vegetarian Society
Becoming a vegetarian is a positive health choice for many people and an ultimate sustainability solution for global use of resources. Arable land is decreasing, population is increasing and eating animals is energetically inefficient. Look at their lifetime food consumption if you want to calculate how much it costs to raise animals for food! This site has tips for becoming a vegetarian, information on specific vegetables, some suggested recipes, and cooking lessons. Detailed information on nutrition discusses proteins, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, fats & oils, vitamins and minerals. The trickiest goal is to meet the protein, vitamin and mineral requirements. Plants on average have more water and much less energy per gram than meat, so it may be possible to lose weight. Interesting reading even if you are not willing to make the change. Site by The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom (if you don't live there, approved links for food sources and companies will be irrelevant). (**1/2) -SR
April 4, 2005 - Gecko Woods
Gecko Woods is a simulated Northeast US forest constucted using Gecko, a Java-based spatial simulator for modeling ecosystem dynamics. Conveniently, the software is implemented in Java 1.1, which runs on modern web browsers. Gecko Woods is designed to provide graphic data on a scientific model based on Sortie, allowing users to explore consequences of the model over time. Pop-up graphic screens displaying population and basal area complement the graphics on trunk and crown diameter on the main page. For more information, buttons on the main screen provide documentation, help and references. The simulator is simple to run and well executed. This implementation is provided by Ginger Booth, Center for Computational Ecology, Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies. (****) -SR
April 1, 2005 - Apollo bacteria spur lunar erosion
Nature, which is one of the most prestigious journals of the scientific literature has chosen today's date to release one of the most worrying reports affecting extraterrestrial ecology that has been published to date. Additionally, they report that a large slab of jet-black rock deep in the crater Tycho has been uncovered, which may help to prioritize further lunar exploration. Evidence for this report was photographed "1 April by the Floating Optical Orbital Lens, as part of a multinational effort to photograph the Apollo landing sites." (****) -SR

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1998: January*, February*, March*, April*, May*, June*, July, August, September, October, November, December   (*Leigh's links)
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