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Biology--Core Reference Materials

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What exactly is a core reference item?

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Concise Encyclopedia Biochemistry and Molecular Biology [Grinnell]
Thomas A. Scott and E. Ian Mercer (revised and expanded by)
New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1997
3rd edition (the 1st edition was published in 1983); 700+ pages.
Some of the entries contain references to other helpful publications; some entries also have explanatory pictures or drawings. The text is written at a level that assumes some prior knowledge of the subject area.

Concise Encyclopedia Biology [Grinnell]
Friedrich W. Stocker and Gerhard Dietrich, editors; translated and revised by Thomas A. Scott
New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1996
1 volume; 1200+ pages; some illustrations.
No encyclopedia, no matter how focussed, will cover every conceivable topic or concept you may be looking for. Keeping that in mind, the encyclopedia above is a solid place to start for topics in Biology. As the name implies, this encyclopedia is indeed concise--the entries are quite short. You may need to look elsewhere if a fuller explanation of a term or concept is required.

Encyclopedia of Biodiversity [Grinnell]
Simon Asher Levin, Editor-in-Chief
San Diego: Academic Press, 2001
5 volumes; volume 5 contains a subject index, list of authors, and a glossary; illustrations and maps.
Over 300 signed articles; each entry follows a standard format consisting of an outline, glossary, statement of definition, the article, cross-references, and a bibliography (from the April 2001 Choice review by J. M. Wehmeyer).

Encyclopedia of Environmental Biology [Grinnell]
William A. Nierenberg, Editor-in-Chief
New York: Academic Press, 1995
3 volumes; a list of contributors (and their mailing addresses), a subject index (78 pages), an index of related titles, and a moderately-descriptive table of contents.
The articles are arranged in alphabetical order by subject. Each article contains a brief outline, appropriate cross-references to other articles in the Encyclopedia, a glossary of potentially unfamiliar terms, and a short bibliography of items for further reading. The text is readable and understandable; the layout is attractive and convenient.

Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change [Grinnell]
Ted Munn, Editor-in-Chief
New York: Wiley, 2002
5 volumes; index; illustrations and maps.
This encyclopedia set is a comprehensive, integrated, and multidisciplinary synthesis of the science, politics, and effects of global environmental change. Each volume begins with a group of about ten extended essays that embrace and explore the field covered by the volume, providing a firm introduction and road map for investigating specific topics covered in that volume's encyclopedic section. Lengthy encyclopedia entries, prepared by active scientists from around the world, present authoritative reviews reflecting current knowledge and viewpoints (from the January 2003 Choice review by J. A. Adams-Volpe).

Five Kingdoms : An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth [Grinnell]
Lynn Margulis and Karlene V. Schwartz
New York: W.H. Freeman, 1998
3rd edition (1st edition published in 1982); 1 volume; 500+ pages; bibliographies at the end of each chapter; appendix containing list of phyla; extensive glossary; subject and name index at the back.
An illustrated guide to the diversity of life on Earth. Not only does this book provide a way of classifying and ordering the different forms of life on Earth, but it, in particular, provides quick and easy-to-understand information for students or anyone seeking information about a genus or phylum.

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia [Grinnell]
Bernhard Grzimek, Editor-in-Chief
New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1972-75
13 volumes; polyglot animal dictionary; subject and name index; list of supplementary readings.
This publication is a classic and was--until the 2nd edition was published--the most indepth, highest-quality encyclopedia of its kind covering everything from lower organisms to insects, fishes and amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia [Grinnell]
Bernhard Grzimek; edited by Michael Hutchins, Jerome A. Jackson, Walter J. Bock, Donna Olendorf, Neil Schlager, and Melissa C. McDade
Detroit: Gale, 2002-2004
2nd edition; 17 volumes; volume 17 is a cumulative index.
The long-awaited 2nd edition of a classic science reference work. Like the 1st edition above, the new edition is the standard animal encyclopedia.

Henderson's Dictionary of Biological Terms [Grinnell]
Eleanor Lawrence
New York: Pearson Education Limited, 2000
12th edition (1st edition published in 1920); 1 volume; 715+ pages; contains 8 appendices.
A useful resource with over 23,000 entries arranged in standard alphabetical format. The definitions are concise and readable; the publication aims "to define as a matter of course any technical or unfamiliar term that may be used in a definition" (from the Preface of the 11th edition).

Hortus Third : A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada [Grinnell]
Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey, revised and expanded by the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium
New York: Macmillan, 1976
Earlier editions of Hortus were published in 1930 and 1941; 1 volume; 1250+ pages; contains a useful Glossary of Botanical Terms (18 pages), an Index to Common Names (65 pages), and a list of authors cited at the back.
For quick descriptive information about plants cultivated in North America north of Mexico, this is the source to turn to. The entries about the plants are arranged alphabetically by scientific name in a dictionary-style format. The lengthy Index to Common Names at the back of the volume is extremely helpful in leading students and others to relevant information within the book itself.

Plants For A Future - The Species Database
Ken Fern and Plants for a Future: A Resource Centre for Edible and Other Useful Plants
The Species Database contains details of nearly 7400 plants, all of which are either edible, have medicinal properties or have some other use such as fibers, oils or soaps. For each plant the database contains details of the uses of the plants, as well as information of the environment it will grow in and cultivation details -- from the introduction to the Database. This is a very interesting and informative site. The Database contains information for which there might not be a constant demand but, when needed, such information can otherwise be difficult to locate--especially difficult to locate rapidly, in this amount, and in such an easy-to-find fashion. The Database can be searched in 5 ways--by name, use, native area, habitat, and keyword--as well as browsed by common name and latin name. In addition, there is a rather detailed Advanced search feature, pages full of potentially useful canned queries, and much more. The search interfaces are straightforward, search results and pages appear with dispatch, help information is plentiful and detailed, and an extensive bibliography is included.

The Tree of Life
David R. Maddison, University of Arizona, et al.
The Tree of Life is an extremely ambitious attempt to electronically trace and illustrate (using the parts of a tree) the diversity of life on this planet--the evolutionary history and the characteristics of all groups of organisms. The effort is based at the University of Arizona, USA and has grown to encompass the work of some 350+ biologists working in institutions around the world. While the information displayed on the pages was originally aimed just at practicing biologists, the site has caught the interest of many students and other non-biologists. According to the coordinators of the site, authors are now encouraged to include some information aimed at the latter audience.
There are many positives to the site--a consistent organization that makes the site easy-to-use, lots of nice colorful graphics for navigation purposes, and many wonderful images of organisms and habitat. In addition, there is extensive help and other explanatory information and many bibliographic references scattered among the pages of the Tree. The site also has a search tool which allows searching by organism name and by keyword. All in all, The Tree of Life is a quality Web site, and it continues to improve as time goes on.

Trends Online: A Compendium of Data on Global Change
Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United States Department of Energy
This publication presents synopses of frequently used time series of global-change data: historical and modern records (from ice cores and current monitoring stations) of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2); atmospheric concentrations of methane; isotopic measurements (14C et al.) for atmospheric greenhouse gases; estimates of global, regional, and national CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels, gas flaring, and the production of cement; global emissions estimates for methane (CH4); carbon flux from land-cover change; long-term temperature records, whose spatial coverage ranges from individual sites to the entire globe and from the Earth's surface to the lower stratosphere; total cloud amount over China; ecosystems (area and carbon content); and more. Data records are presented in multipage formats, each dealing with a specific site, region, or emissions species. The data records include tables; graphs; discussions of methods for collecting, measuring, and reporting the data; trends in the data, and references to literature providing further information.

How to find the above encyclopedias and other publications? See Step 3: Locate of the Information Strategy for details.

Questions? Please let me know.


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Updated 5:00 p.m. CT December 10, 2004
Kevin Engel (kevin@strategian.com)
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