Scott's Botanical Links--December 2001


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December 21, 2001 - Kazuo Yamasaki's Madagascar Image Site
This site, presented in English and Japanese approaches the quality of a virtual library of Madagascar images, beginning with hordes of locusts in flight, to the plants and higher animals of the region. The xerophytic adaptations of plants on the drought-ridden island of Madagascar are legendary and conspicuous on this site. Succinct descriptions and thumbnails provide the focus for providing carefully selected images, as well as occasional "extra" images. This presents a remarkable ecotouristic overview of Madagascar, which may also be useful in the classroom. Site by Kazuo Yamasaki, Hiroshima University, Japan. (****) -S
December 20, 2001 - Yamasaki Lab Plant Photo Gallery
Kazuo Yamasaki's laboratory on the medicinal chemistry of natural products includes this extensive collection of over 1200 plant images from a variety of Asian countries. Species may be searched by scientific name, local or family names, and by country using a simple search engine. Pages of links listing the entire collection of species alphabetically by genus and family are also provided. Site by Kazuo Yamasaki, Hiroshima University, Japan. (***1/2) -S
December 19, 2001 - ITALIC - Information System on Italian Lichens
The ITALIC database has a remarkably extensive and high quality collection of lichen images online, with 2100 images of more than 1400 species (scale bars included!). The images are from x6 to x32 magnification (2000 x 1500 pixels at largest size); anatomical images are planned for 2002. Average image size is ~400Kb. These can be downloaded and printed for private use only. This is truly a remarkable site! Free registration is required for usage and is essentially instantaneous. Site, images and database by S. Martello and P.L. Nimis, Trieste, Italy. (****) -S
December 18, 2001 - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was founded in 1982 "to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants ... from the smallest sprout to the tallest tree." Over 4000 species of native plants are in danger of extinction in this country alone. This site features data on many of them, tips for land restoration, educational events and publications. The online native plant information database includes an extensive native plant library, slide show, propagation information, native plant organizations, recommended species, seed suppliers and landscapers. A case studies site shows some success stories nationwide. This is a fascinating resource for native plants. (****) -S
December 17, 2001 - ETI's World Biodiversity Database
The World Biodiversity Database plans to document all presently known species (about 1.7 million) and make this biological information accessible worldwide free of charge for scientific and educational use. The WBD contains taxonomic information (hierarchies), species names, synonyms, descriptions, illustrations, literature references, links to information on protein sequences (from the SWISS-PROT and TrEMBL databases), nucleic sequences (EMBL) and 3D structures (PDB) for each taxon. Online identification keys and an interactive geographic information system are planned for the future. This is also linked to the Species 2000 Index of Species--a basic species name reference. Databases to species, taxonomists and marine organisms, constructed in cooperation with the Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam (SARA). (****) -S
December 14, 2001 - Fruits of Warm Climates
This site is an online version of the print text "Fruits of Warm Climates" -- an ethnobotanical classic from 1987 by Julia F. Morton. With over 120 species (and countless varieties) in 36 families, this presents a wealth of information about flowering plant fruit crops. Each species includes descriptions, origin & distribution, varieties, pollination, climate, soil, propagation, culture, yield, harvesting & ripening, keeping quality, pests & diseases, food uses, toxicity and other uses. This includes oranges, bananas, guava, dates, figs, other familiar fruits, and some fruits that may yet prove useful as new crops. An excellent fruit reference site by the Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. (****) -S
December 13, 2001 - An Introduction to Microscopy: Botany
This primer on using the microscope provides a "popular" treatment of botanical microscopy. Indeed there are abundant available specimens for botanical microscopy! The best part of the site is the list of links to articles in Micscape (an microscopy ezine). Topics include stomata, plant adaptations, seasonal berries, leaf epidermis, ferns, mosses and liverworts, mushrooms, molds, hungry bladderworts (Utricalia), Polysiphonia, a red algae, pollen, Mesozoic conifer wood fragments and horsetails. Site by Microscopy-UK. (***1/2) -S
December 12, 2001 - Multiscopic Cell
The Multiscopic Cell is an innovative web module on the cell designed for a secondary school to introductory biology course. The virtual trip within a cell requires the viewer to become disinfected (for personal safety), and immerses them into a very fast-paced introduction to the cell. Organelles featured include the nucleus, mitochondrion, golgi, endoplasmic reticulum and peroxisomes. Most every picture moves, or chides itself for being boring. Nonetheless, information is pleasingly presented, accurate, and skillfully draws the viewer to the conclusion of each section. Despite the short attention span approach, this site covers a lot of material. (****) -S
December 11, 2001 - A Nomenclatural Morass: The Naming of Lewis' "Fir No. 5"
This story illustrates the potential complexities of naming a newly discovered organism. In this case, it is Douglas Fir, bearing the currently accepted scientific name of Pseudotsuga menziesii. This story traces assigned names from the first collections by surgeon-naturalist Archibald Menzies aboard HMS Discovery in the 1790s, through later collections by Lewis & Clark, and the current resolution of the problem by Frederick Pursh. The site features extensive written narrative, numerous biographies and an interesting case study on the international rules of nomenclature that must be followed. Site by Jim Reveal (a major contributor of links to my Botanical Links site). (****) -SR
December 10, 2001 - NOVA Online: Methuselah Tree
This is the companion site to a PBS Nova episode on the world's oldest living thing, a bristlecone pine, located in California's White Mountains. The episode appears first this week, but the site should be timeless. Even if the television episode's poetic style may not be every botanist's choice, this site may compensate for it. The site is feature rich, with virtual reality of remote bristlecone sites (3-D using QTVR; press mouse button and move to change views, shift-mouse button to zoom, ctrl-mouse button to unzoom), tips on how trees achieve long life, building a tree-ring-based timeline, and how photosynthesis works using an innovative Flash presentation. The site requires Apple's QuickTime player for QTVR and the Flash plugin to see all features. There are also resource pages, a teacher's guide and a an email announcement list for those interested in future Nova episodes. Site by PBS. (****) -S
December 7, 2001 - Centres of Plant Diversity: The Americas
Almost 70% of the world's estimated 250,000 species of flowering plants grow in tropical regions of the world. Many are single country endemic species. With continued human encroachment, many plants and animals are endangered. This program identifies areas of exceptional plant diversity to target for action. This site focuses regions having high percentages of endemic species throughout North, Central and South America. For instance, more than 40,000 plant species (about 1/4 of all tropical diversity) occur in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. This site lists regions, discusses their important characteristics and provides recommendations for action. (***1/2) -SR
December 6, 2001 - Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden
The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden is located at Port Augusta, South Australia, just outside of town on the road to Alice Springs with the Flinders Ranges in view. Growth conditions approach the famous Australian "Outback". This site features a very well-organized and illustrated introduction to the plants and animals in the area, conservation methods needed to stimulate growth in the desert, and information on the research being conducted at the Garden. Their vision is to become a major educational garden focusing on arid lands. Plant descriptions include excellent paintings and digital images, with detailed information on the plants' biology. Site by AALBG. (***1/2) -SR
December 5, 2001 - Deserts: Geology and Resources
This well written USGS document addressed the major questions of deserts. Topics covered include What Is a Desert?, How the Atmosphere Influences Aridity, Where Deserts Form, Types of Deserts, Desert Features, Eolian Processes, Types of Dunes, Remote Sensing of Arid Lands, Mineral Resources in Deserts, Desertification, Selected Readings and a page about the book. The images are startling and quite well selected from around the world. The problem of what causes deserts to form is suprisingly complex and part of desertification, which is also effectively covered on this site. Site by USGS. (****) -SR
December 4, 2001 - Neotropical Grassland Conservancy
The stated goal of the Neotropical Grassland Conservancy is to preserve and restore grassland ecosystems throughout Latin America, promoting especially basic education and research. This site has some useful information, and promises more, on neotropical grasslands. The research needs include modest equipment purchases (often cameras, microscopes and binoculars). Much of the work will be done by Latin American volunteers who need this equipment. Currently at a fledgling stage, hopefully this develops also as an informational web site, as well. -S
December 3, 2001 - Scientific American's Origin of the Nucleus
Constantin Mereschkowsky first tentatively suggested a separate orgin of the nucleus in 1905, proposing that free roaming nuclei entered other cells and occupied them as endosymbionts. Interestingly, other organelles the possess double membranes, including mitochondria & chloroplasts, are now believed to have a similar endosymbiotic origin. Two models for nuclear origins are discussed: karyogenesis and endokaryosis. This is an interesting discussion on a fundamental cell biological issue. This site is part of Scientific American's "Explorations" series. (****) -SR

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2006: January
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1998: January*, February*, March*, April*, May*, June*, July, August, September, October, November, December   (*Leigh's links)
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