Scott's Botanical Links--October 2003


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Past links:

October 31, 2003 - Plant DNA C-values Database
Kew Royal Botanic Gardens hosts a database that describes the amount of DNA present in currently 3927 species, including angiosperms (3493), gymnosperms (181), pteridophytes (82) and bryophytes (171). This is a small number compared to the plant kingdom, but represents a diversity of plants, including basal angiosperms as a special category. Queries are possible by taxonomic group and name. An email address is requested, presumably to justify its funding. The Plant DNA C-values Database and many of the measurements are the work of Michael D. Bennett, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. (***1/2) -S
October 30, 2003 - Profiles and Photographs of Medicinal Plants
"Profiles and Photographs of Medicinal Plants" is part of an East Indian Plant Medicinal Database, covering biochemically active plants known from ethnobotanical examinations from around the world. The site currently contains ~90 plant images and descriptions. Each plant is accompanied by small thumbnail image (or more) that links to well described high quality views. Distributional data, anecdotes and notes of interest are also included. (***1/2) -S
October 29, 2003 - Virtual Classroom Biology
This site is a model companion for undergraduate biology course instruction in the Netherlands. The site emphasizes microscopic techology (& computer technology) including a FESEM simulator, images & movies of tissues and cells, organizational information, mitosis & meiosis, plant adaptations, biodiversity and the environment. Images and exercises are carefully chosen, and somewhat encyclopedic in coverage. Images are given with or without labels and are excellent in quality, accompanied by useful descriptions. Virtual Classroom Biology is a product of the Katholieke University of Nijmegen (KUN). (****) -S
October 28, 2003 - Maize Mapping Project
Maize is perhaps the most important flowering plant crop. It has one of the larger genomes among crop plants being examined as genomic models -- pretty close to that of man (6.6 to 7 pg DNA versus 5.4 pg for maize [a lot more than Arabidopsis at 0.18 pg!]). This site compiles available information on the expressed genes, detailed mapping of chromosomes, genetic information, ESTs and many sequenced BACs (bacterial artificial chromosomes--handy constructs for sequencing). The sequencing of maize is, of necessity, strategic: emphasis is on expressed genes and known markers to provide the greatest information about the segments that are sequenced first. Considerable data are available at and through this site, by the Maize Mapping Project -- a joint effort of University of Missouri, University of Arizona, and University of Georgia. (***1/2) -S
October 27, 2003 - Atlas of Plant Anatomy
This Atlas of Plant Anatomy contains a light microscopic image-based overview of cell & tissues, roots, stems, and leaves, apical meristems, and reproductive structures. Labels are sparingly used so that much of the image remains visible. Insets and different sectioning orientations are used for some structures. The site is not encyclopedic and image quality is variable, but for an introductory botany class or for review, this site would be a nice adjunct. Site built and maintained by Paul Schulte of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. (***) -S
October 24, 2003 - PLANTS National Database
PLANTS National Database is a central retrieval site for information and reports about alternative crops, plant characteristics, checklists, classification, culturally significant plants, distribution updates, excluded & anomalous names, fact sheets, invasive & noxious plants, plant materials publications, threatened & endangered plants, and wetlands indicators. The metadata at this site compile standard information (names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, characteristics, images, references, crop information) about U.S. representatives of a myriad of vascular and non-vascular plant groups, and also lichens of the U.S. and its territories. This is maintained by USDA. (****) -S
October 23, 2003 - SimForest
SimForest is a virtual science laboratory that is based on software that predicts forest conditions over time. This is designed for grades 7-12 and undergraduates. Based on a forest ecosystem in New England, students may select up to 30 species, examine their interactions and watch them grow. The software may also be set to simulate a wide variety of climate changes as well, including global warming. The NSF-funded project includes development of software, curriculum, teacher knowledge, and assessment. The software is apparently currently available free online. (***1/2) -S
October 22, 2003 - Science Netlinks
Science Netlinks is an Internet-based learning activity site for K-12 classrooms. These are split into 4 groups for convenience: K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. There are lesson plans and activities at the site, tools for engaging interactive activities and suggestions in the classroom. Reviewed websites to support standards-based teaching and learning are also provided, along with the K-12 science literacy learning goals outlined by AAAS's Project 2061. This site is sponsored by AAAS and MarcoPolo. (***1/2) -S
October 21, 2003 - Montana Plant Life
Over 400 species of wild Montana plants are featured with more than 1500 images, full descriptions and identification guides. Detailed information is available on edible, poisonous and medicinal properties of the species. The picture identification system lets the user make easy choices about flower color, leaf shape etc. to arrive at a page with results containing pictures and short descriptions, and from there one can go to the detailed species pages. The search engine can be used to find pages containing any species name or medicinal term etc. that exists in the database. (****) -Jan Hjalmarsson (thanks for the nomination and write-up!)
October 20, 2003 - Gene Ontology Consortium
In the modern genomics age, there is exponentially expanding information on genes and proteins in increasingly diverse organisms. The goal of the Gene Ontology Consortium is coordinating expanding knowledge and allowing functional gene characterization to proceed. At the heart of this, biochemical knowledge and genomic rigor are combined to produce a consistent vocabulary for all organisms, genes, proteins and protein roles as these are uncovered. This approach provides order in relating genes of disparate organisms that may be encountered during modern studies. (***1/2) -S
October 17, 2003 - My Wildflowers
My Wildflowers includes a searchable database of wildflower photos from western Pennsylvania. Search options include many search options and this is an understatement. Characteristics include floral color, flowering phenology, location, family, and many more characteristics, as well as a powerful "identification" tool using easily identified floral characteristics to assist users in identifying unknown flowers. Images and some information are available on each specimen. The are countless opportunities to buy or email images, but the images are high quality and you can look for free. The site is by a bicyclist named Deb who takes a digital camera on her treks. (***) -S
October 16, 2003 - MushroomExpert.Com
This website is an attractive and informative site concerning mainly amateur collecting of mushrooms. The site is very well illustrated and is the effort of a board of contributors that includes professionals and dedicated amateurs. Links from the home page include observational advice, reading and writing descriptions, using field guides, Latin names, chemical tests, keys & monographs, preserving specimens and mushroom photography, as well as how to use a microscope. Regarding eating mushrooms, no advice is more important than using extreme caution, and not relying on the advice of any one reference. There is background for this as my mycology professor almost died from eating a mushroom that was said to be fully edible (he had unexpected allergic sensitivity & unfortunately allergies are not rare). Edibility links are also included to identify clealy poisonous mushrooms and potential identification problems. Site organized by Michael Kuo. (***1/2) -S
October 15, 2003 - Nature's Encyclopedia of the Life Sciences
The journal Nature has organized an encyclopedia with articles on over 3,000 topics in the life sciences, including at least 98 on plants. About 15 to 20 of the plant articles are introductory in scope, but there are also many that are presented with significant depth. All are written by authorities and peer reviewed. Although this is a paid service, it appears to be an excellent resource for a wide range of topics and many universities may subscribe. If you are looking for up-to-date and authoritative encyclopedia articles online, this is a great place to start. ELS is published by the Nature Publishing Group. (****) -S
October 14, 2003 - Van Leeuwenhoek Microscope Replica
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) invented a very simple one-lens microscope using a glass bead as the lens, accompanied by a primitive specimen holder/focusing device. This web site provides full plans for developing a van Leeuwenhoek-like microscope. The finished microscope requires some brass machining skills, but making imperfect glass beads in a flame and mounting them into a holder is not too difficult. The site is designed by Alan Shinn, and will produce a workable microscope. Another modified glass bead microscope with an easier to use focusing mechanism is available at the Fun Science site at URL: It is easy to understand why modern microscopes are compound lens systems, rather than single lens like these! (***1/2) -S
October 13, 2003 - Germs from Nowhere: Spontaneous Generation
Early biologists believed that organisms arose spontaneously from non-living matter under the right conditions. This site recalls the history of critical experiments relating to this idea. Microbial activity was first visualized by van Leeuwenhoek. Heat sterilzation prevented microbial activity, but the trapped gasses are incapable of supporting life. Pasteur ultimately designed the glassware that proved how microbes moved and proved the case. This is a one page topic, but there are many more educational sites through the Chemical Heritage Foundation. (***1/2) -S
October 10, 2003 - Bats, Bees, and Brazil Nut Trees
"Bats, Bees, and Brazil Nut Trees" is a photo essay on the plants and pollinators of the Brazil nut family (Lecythidaceae). The ~50 slides of this essay portray plants, their floral structure, reproductive strategies and their place in the Amazon rainforest in which many of these species grow. The illustrations are high quality and very nicely incorporated into the site. This excellent summary of reproductive biology of the Brazil nut and related plants is also available on CD. Constructed by Scott A. Mori, Nathaniel Lord Britton Curator of Botany, Institute of Systematic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden. (***1/2)
October 9, 2003 - Lewis and Clark Expedition Bicentennial
Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's Corps of Discovery in 1803 to travel in the uncharted West in a cross country trek that launched the US expansion the the Pacific Ocean. From May 12, 1804 to September 23, 1806, they traveled from Missouri to Oregon and back, discovering the major geographic features of the West and over 300 new species. This site had journey logs, discoveries of plant and animals, maps, and many images of what they saw, photographed many years later. This is a major web site that allows viewers to see where the expedition was for each day of the journey. Site by National Geographic Society. (***1/2) -S
October 8, 2003 - Agave Image Site
A companion site to the AgaveWeb, this site features hundreds of Agave images of great diversity and breadth. The images are approximately 500 pixel wide and some are of high quality. The collection is sorted into easily navigated albums with thumbnail images. Typically each album represents one species although there are also some "lumped" collections (e.g., unidentified, various, cultivars, Berger's "Die Agaven" (1915), hybrids, oddities and diseases & pests). Each album consists of one or more images, some up to 25 pages long and 20 images per page. This is a large site, by Maarten van Thiel at Fotki.Com. (***1/2) -S
October 7, 2003 - Agaveweb
Agaveweb is an information site that specializes on Agave plants that is hosted by MSN Groups. This site certainly lives up to its name, with pages of pictures, AgaveForum news (chat, postings, polls and other eGroups functions), botanical information, nomenclature, translations, CITES, literature, collections, unidentified agaves, cultivation, Agave products, plants & seeds, animals & agaves, links, a swap & collection list. This is an excellent site for finding Agave aficionados, from professional scientists, to gardeners, to beginners. (***) -S
October 6, 2003 - Biflora
The island of Hainan, China, as part of the Indo-Burma region, is considered to be a world "biodiversity hotspot". Most of the scientists working on this database are local researchers in China. They intend to catalog, illustrate and provide online resources for all of the plants. So far, there are not very many plant listed, but it is a promising idea. Resources are being provided by the Bicoll Group of Shanghai and Munich. The species included provide a model for an online herbarium layout that is attractive and easy to navigate. The value of the resource will increase as it is populated with more plants. (***) -S
October 3, 2003 - Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - A Special Report by Arctic Circle
'Arctic Circle' was organized by Norman Chance, an arctic anthropologist, who among others sought to spread knowledge of the circumpolar North to a wider audience. This site presents information on the resources and controversies surrounding the use of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Major headings include Natural Resources, The People, Oil Exploration, Controversy & Debate, and Commentary. The Resources link features plant information, so I liked it right away. The Debate pages include sites describing the perspectives of government, environmental groups, oil developers, native peoples, artists, international opinion and media coverage. The Commentary page is a free form discussion with postings accepted from the wider electronic community. This is as well balanced an academically rigorous site as I have seen on this topic. 'Arctic Circle' has been hosted at University of Connecticut since February 1995. (****) -S
October 2, 2003 - Lifestyles of the Extreme and Adapted
Another New York Times lesson plan for elementary and secondary students, this focuses on "extremophiles" -- bacteria that grow under very hot or stressed conditions. Using a NYT article that discusses the unexpected genetic separation in geographically isolated extremophiles, students examine how these bacteria meet their life challenges, along with how they evolved. Lesson plans are presented for two age groups: grades 6-8 and 9-12. Interesting discussion topics and activities are proposed. The topic could be adapted to undergraduate discussions as well. Site by NYT. (***1/2) -S
October 1, 2003 - Plant Growth Regulators
This webpage summarizes plant signal transduction, classical plant hormones & their functions, brassinosteroids, salicylic acid (pathogen response), jasmonates (seedling growth), systemin (wound response), oligosaccharins (plant defense & growth regulation). This is a succinct summary of the most common regulators, well-presented and carefully illustrated. Unfortunately, they do not promise that this will be a stable link, so use it soon. (This page is part of a more major site for Biology 203, so you might like to see what other topics are available.) Site by Rosemary Richardson at Bellevue Community College. (***1/2) -S

Past, past links (by date):

2006: January
2005: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2003: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2002: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2001: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
2000: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1999: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
1998: January*, February*, March*, April*, May*, June*, July, August, September, October, November, December   (*Leigh's links)
1997: January, February, March, April, May, June, September*, October*, November*, December*    (*Leigh's links)
1996: February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Or search by: Subject Index