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Life Sciences Libraries
General Reference Sources
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- AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access). Washington, DC: National Agricultural Library, 1970- . Updated daily.
The online equivalent of Bibliography of Agriculture, produced by the National Agriculture Library (NAL). This database covers journal articles, book chapters, government documents, technical reports, and proceedings. The material primarily comes from the holdings of NAL, though some other material is also included. AGRICOLA is a useful source of information on animals of economic importance, particularly insects. You will also find information on interactions of wildlife with livestock and similar subjects. Since AGRICOLA is produced by a government agency, it is inexpensive and available from a number of vendors in several formats such as online, on CD-ROM, and through the Web. The database can be searched for free at the URL listed above. However, this search engine is very clumsy so most users are better off checking to see what other access methods are available to them. NAL also publishes an annual List of Journals Indexed in AGRICOLA.
- Index Medicus. New series, Vol. 1- . Washington, DC: National Library of Medicine, 1975- .
Index Medicus and its various electronic formats (AKA MEDLINE, PubMed, and formerly Grateful Med) is the best-known index for the biomedical sciences, including veterinary medicine. For zoologists, it is useful for its coverage of pests of medical importance, for wildlife diseases, and medical entomology.
Like AGRICOLA (above), it is available for free searching on the Web as PubMed (1966 to date). The PubMed database is designed for researchers and covers more journals than the regular MEDLINE database. PubMed also offers links to protein and gene sequence databases such as GenBank, plus live links to electronic journals. You will be able to connect to most of these electronic journals only if your library or institution has subscribed to them, however. There are also a number of other features, such as the ability to set up Current Awareness searches through the "Cubby" feature. In addition, there are useful services such as browseable databases for journal titles and medical subject headings, and citation matching services. The OldMEDLINE database offers free searching of articles from 1958-1965 at http://gateway.nlm.nih.gov/. MEDLINE is also available from numerous other online and CD-ROM vendors.
- National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Washington, DC: National Technical Information Service, 1990s- .
This site lists over 750,000 technical reports available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), including research supported by federal grants and some state and local governments. Some international agencies are also represented. It is available online, on CD-ROM, and on the Web. Material published after 1990 is freely searchable at NTIS's Web site. The print version, Government Reports Announcements and Index (GRAI), is no longer being published.
- Science.gov. Springfield, VA: National Technical Information Service.
This site is designed to permit scientists and interested laypeople to access the vast amount of scientific information developed by the U. S. government agencies. It is similar to the FirstGov site listed above. Users can search by agency, subject, or document type and can also limit their search to only general interest material (the "Citizen Search"). Search results include a brief summary of each site's content and type (e.g., Web portal or maps and charts) and a link to the actual site. Created by National Technical Information Service (NTIS).
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Checklists and Classification Schemes
- Index to Organism Names. Thompson Reuters.
This searchable index contains nomenclature taken from Thompson Reuters organization (publishers of Biological Abstracts and Zoological Record) and several other groups. The index provides basic information on nomenclature and hierarchy for plant and animal names, plus counts of the number of times the animal name occurred in volumes of the Zoological Record, which reflects the frequency the name is used in the literature. Currently, the database includes bacteria, algae, mosses, fungi, and animals.
- NCBI Taxonomy Homepage. Bethseda, MD: NCBI, 2000- .
This page was created to publicize the names of the 105,082 species (as of September 1, 2001) of organisms with gene sequences listed in GenBank. While less than 25% of the species represented in GenBank are metazoans, this still represents a large number of animals. The taxonomy homepage is not a taxonomic authority, but it serves as a useful guide to the current state of the field and contains many links to other taxonomic resources, both on the Web and in print.
- The Tree of Life: A Multi-Authored, Distributed Internet Project Containing Information About Phylogeny and Biodiversity. Maddison, D. R. and W. P. Maddison, 1998.
The Tree of Life covers all groups of organisms, living and extinct. Most of the groups are treated only to the generic level. All of the treatments include extensive bibliographies dealing with the systematics of that group, and most also include photos or drawings of representative species, plus links to other Web sites dealing with the taxon. The Tree of Life, unlike some of the other comprehensive Web sites listed here, is aimed at researchers and advanced students.
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Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
- Nomenclatural Glossary for Zoology. BIOSIS, 1996.
This glossary is designed to aid indexers in the production of nomenclatural entries for the Zoological Record but is valuable for anyone needing definitions of the often technical terminology used in taxonomy. It covers about 400 terms such as holotype, nomen imperfectum, or tautonymy. The glossary is consistent with the 4th edition of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (see below).
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Guides to the Literature
- BiologyBrowser. Biological Abstracts, Inc. Philadelphia, PA: BIOSIS, 1992- .
A collection of free resources for biologists, some of them produced by BIOSIS. The site also includes a collection of Web sites, several discussion forums, a list of conferences, and other material. The Web site directory can be searched or browsed by geographical location, organism, or subject.
- International Field Guides. Schmidt, Diane. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1998- .
This frequently updated site is a companion to the print guide to North American field guides listed above. Over 1,500 field guides from all parts of the world outside of North America are described. Most are in English, and most are readily available in North America. The descriptions follow the same format listed above.
- Using the Biological Literature: A Practical Guide. Schmidt, Diane, Elisabeth B. Davis, and Pamela F. Jacobs. 3rd ed.
An annotated guide to resources for all the biological sciences, with separate chapters on entomology and zoology. Each chapter identifies resources such as indexes, dictionaries and encyclopedias, handbooks, journals, and associations. Major Web sites are also listed, and this associated Web site at keeps the URLs updated.
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- 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Cambridge, England: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2000.
For over 40 years, the IUCN Red Lists have provided taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information for endangered plant and animal species worldwide. Separate Red Lists were available for various groups such as birds or fishes. However, beginning with the 2000 edition the lists have been combined and will only be available electronically. They are available for free on the Web at the URL listed above, and on CD-ROM for a fee. The Web site provides a great deal of information on the IUCN's programs, the criteria used for listing a species, references, and extensive links to other sites that provide information on the listed species.
- InfoNatura: Birds and Mammals of Latin America. Version 1.0. Arlington, VA: NatureServe, 2001.
This site provides conservation-oriented information on more than 5,500 species of birds and mammals of Latin America and the Caribbean. The database is searchable by English common name and scientific name or by higher taxa. The species accounts include taxonomic information such as English, Spanish, and Portuguese common names, global conservation (IUCN and CITES) status, distribution, and references. InfoNatura is a product of NatureServe (see below) in collaboration with Conservation Data Centers in 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 1998- .
ITIS is a database of authoritative names for organisms, primarily plants and animals from North America but also from around the world. It is the result of a partnership of several federal agencies including NOAA, USDA, USGS, and the Smithsonian Institute. The scientific names are taken from authoritative sources selected by taxonomic experts. The database can be queried by common or scientific name and includes both valid and invalid names. Results include the status of the name, taxonomic hierarchy, references, and distribution. Portions of the database can also be downloaded.
- NatureServe Explorer: An Online Encyclopedia of Life. Version 1.6. Arlington, VA: NatureServe, 2001.
A database of conservation information on over 50,000 plants, animals, and ecological communities of North America. The data included in each species account includes taxonomic information, global and national conservation status, distribution, management, natural history, and references. NatureServe is a non-profit organization developed by the Nature Conservancy and the Natural Heritage Network to advance the application of biodiversity information to conservation. It is also involved in the InfoNatura project, above.
- Phylogeny of Life. University of California, Berkeley. Musueum of Paleontology.
This Web site provides an introduction to the exhibits in the Phylogeny Wing at the Museum of Paleontology. The Web List of Taxa is an index to the organisms covered in the exhibits. Almost all taxa of organisms, from viruses to animals, are included with a brief introduction to the taxonomy, ecology, and life history of organisms in the group. There are also illustrations, short lists of Web sites for further research, information on the paleontology of the taxa, and links to an online glossary. This is an excellent site for information on obscure taxa of animals. While most groups are discussed only at the level of the phylum, taxa such as the insects or mammals are taken to the family level.
- Species 2000. International Union of Biological Sciences.
"Species 2000 has the objective of enumerating all known species of plants, animals, fungi and microbes on Earth as the baseline dataset for studies of global biodiversity." Eighteen organizations have formed a federation to combine existing taxonomic databases created by their members. The Web site contains information about the Species 2000 initiative, as well as two versions of the database. One, the "Catalogue of Life", is a reference version stabilized every year. It is also available on CD-ROM. The "Dynamic Checklist" contains the same information, but is continually updated. Another section, the "Names Service", provides information on accepted and invalid nomenclature, including groups of organisms not included in the catalogue or checklist. As of August 2003, the Catalogue of Life included 304,000 species, but not all taxa are represented.
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- Animal Diversity. Hickman, Cleveland P., Larry S. Roberts, Larry S., and Allan Larson. 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
An undergraduate level survey of the animal kingdom, this text is suitable for one-semester courses. It covers diversity, evolutionary relationships, adaptations, and environmental interactions. After beginning chapters introducing the science of zoology, and the evolution, anatomy, and classification of animals, the bulk of the book consists of chapters covering each of the major taxa from protists to mammals. The text has a profusion of colorful illustrations and numerous sidebars. Each chapter concludes with a summary, review questions, selected references, and links to the Web. The links are also available at this website.
- Integrated Principles of Zoology. Hickman, Cleveland P., Larry S. Roberts, and Allan Larson. 11th ed Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Like most other zoology textbook, this one covers basic biology, genetics, physiology, and ecology as well as the diversity of animal life. Each chapter concludes with a summary, review questions, and selected references. The text is supported by several multimedia products, including a tutorial CD-ROM, this Online Learning Center web site, and a Visual Resource Library CD-ROM. For undergraduates.
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