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RQS: Biology & Life Sciences

Covers the sciences dealing with living organisms, including plant, animal, and human biology; includes related fields such as genetics, nutrition, physiology.   Show only highlighted/core resources

Assistance for Using This Guide

Information about online databases
Databases with restricted access
Subscription database access is available through all computers on the MCTC campus. From off campus, the databases are only available to current MCTC students, faculty and staff who log in.
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Full text resources
Databases containing the entire text of articles will be noted with this icon. Many databases have a combination of full text articles and article citations only (article citations will give you information about the article, but not the text of the article), so look carefully at your results.
Available in Full Text

Find Facts, Definitions, Overviews

Facts on File Dictionary of Evolutionary Biology
This dictionary "explains the basic set of scientific terms, concepts, and issues at the heart of evolutionary biology." [Books In Print synopsis]
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor QH360.2 .F27 2004
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Penguin Dictionary of Biology
"...explores the very latest discoveries and developments, containing more than 400 new entries to take account of the latest thinking on genetics, human physiology, disease, and cell biology. All key botanical and zoological concepts as well as the core vocabulary of biochemistry, immunology, evolutionary theory, and ecology are defined in depth." [Publisher information]
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor QH13 .N62 2004
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Encyclopedia Articles, General (Online)
Encyclopedia Britannica Online
EB Online includes the complete encyclopedia, as well as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the Britannica Book of the Year. You can also use EB Online to search an Internet directory that includes more than 130,000 links to Web sites selected, rated, and reviewed by Britannica editors
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World Book
Includes the text of the World Book Encyclopedia, maps, charts, audio and visual clips, animations, Bubble Views (360-degree virtual tours), Web sites, and magazine and newspaper articles.
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Encyclopedia Articles, Subject-Specific (Online)
AccessScience (McGraw-Hill)
Online edition of the McGraw-Hill Science and Technology Encyclopedia with added content. Content areas include the physical and life sciences, computing and information technology, and psychiatry and psychology. The online edition includes science news, images and videos.
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Beacham's Guide to the Endangered Species of North America (Gale Virtual Reference Library)
"Presents extensive data on the habitats and ecosystems of more than 1,200 species identified as endangered or threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Arranged taxonomically, entries include introductory information with an image of the species; a summary section detailing information on each species; a concluding summary of recovery efforts; and a bibliography of contacts for further information." [Publisher information]
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Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues in Biotechnology (Gale Virtual Reference Library)
"This two-volume set focuses on all aspects of ethics, law, and policy relating to the field of biotechnology, including human subjects research, gene therapy, cloning, the human genome project, animal and medical biotechnology, and disabilities." [Books In Print sysnopsis]
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Endangered Species (Gale Virtual Reference Library)
"Including the addition of 25 new species, this new 2nd edition is completely updated to reflect the changes in endangered and threatened status. Color photographs and maps provide further illustrate the many species threatened by extinction, including amphibians, birds, crustaceans, fish, insects, mammals, mollusks, reptiles, and more. Each entry gives a species description, location, reason for endangerment, and measures being taken to prevent it from extinction." [Publisher information]
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Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia (Gale Virtual Reference Library)
17 volumes cover the animal kingdom from single-celled organisms through mammals, ordered taxonomically. Topic overviews, glossary, and bibliographies are also included.
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Encyclopedias, Subject-Specific (Print)
Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior
Three volumes, with entries arranged alphabetically. Also includes organizations, related web sites, and suggested additonal resources in the study of animal behavior.
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- QL750.3 .E53 2004
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Life on Earth : An Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolution
"This two volume set takes an original look at biodiversity and ecology by focusing on how humans contribute, or more accurately do not contribute, to the Earth's delicate balance ... This volume provides a wealth of information on the effects of human behavior on the ecosystem." [American Reference Books Annual]
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- QH541.15.B56 L54 2002
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Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia
Two volumes covering the following topics: "Animal life, biosciences, chemistry, Earth and atmospheric sciences, energy sources and power technology, mathematics and engineering sciences, medicine, anatomy, and physiology, physics, plant sciences, space and planetary sciences."
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- Q121 .V3 2002
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Field Guides
Mammals of Minnesota Field Guide
Includes range maps, tracks, photos, habitat, food.
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- QL719.M6 T45 2005
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Reptiles & Amphibians of Minnesota Field Guide
"A detailed description of 50 species of amphibians and reptiles that can be found in Minnesota, including color variations, physical characteristics, and juveniles to aid in positive identification. Includes detailed range maps for each species in Minnesota, as well as a compact disc with recordings of all the frog and toad species found in Minnesota, recorded on location at Minnesota ponds, swamps, rivers, and lakes." [Summary from catalog record]
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- QL653.M55 T457 2003
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Sibley Guide to Birds
"Sibley depicts & annotates 810 species & 350 regional populations, showing their stages, forms, shapes, colors, & markings. He describes each species' calls, & provides a full-color range map showing each species' migration routes & its summer, winter, & breeding locations." [Publisher information]
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- QL681 .S497 2000
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Trees of Minnesota : Field Guide
Each entry includes family, Latin, and common names, description, habitat, range, and origin/age.
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor -- QK168 .T73 2001
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General Reference Works
Recent Advances and Issues in Biology
Part of the Oryx "frontiers of science" series, chapters include topics such as: biodiversity, ecosystem management and sustainable development, evolution, molecular biology and genetics, and social issues in biology. Also includes biographical sketches, career information, organizations and associations and a glossary.
Location: Reference Collection -- 1st Floor QH307.2 .M47 2000
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Find Journal & Magazine Articles

Article Databases - Multiple Disciplines
Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost)
    Coverage varies, 1975 - present
With coverage spanning virtually every area of academic study, this database provides full text for more than 4,600 scholarly publications, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals.

Video tutorials:
Subject Term Searching

Keyword Searching
Available in Full Text
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DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
This service covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. There are now 5980 journals in the directory, with 2546 journals searchable at the article level. Subject coverage includes all areas. For some journals, you may need to follow links to the publisher's site to access articles, and others may require registration (DOAJ allows publishers to require FREE user registration.)
Expanded Academic ASAP (Gale)
Includes over 4,200 indexed titles, over 2,500 of which are full-text and many are peer-reviewed, - in all disciplines including social sciences, humanities, education, science and technology.
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"PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 17 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources." [Publisher information]

PubMed is a great tool to use to search the biomedical literature, and more full text articles are now available than in the past. You can use the "Limit" tab to select 'Links to full text' or 'Links to free full text'. Please do not feel you must pay for any full text articles, if you are an MCTC student, staff or faculty member! To find out whether the MCTC Library subscribes to a particular journal, either in print or online, please see PalsConnect.

For help getting started in PubMed, use the PubMed Quick Start page.
Science Direct: Health & Life Sciences Journals Collection
Science Direct College Edition provides abstracts (many with full text) of journal articles in the Health and Life Sciences. Please note that the green icon next to the journal title or issue number indicates that articles in the issue are available in full-text online.
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Science Reference Center (Ebsco)
Contains full text from science encyclopedias and reference books; periodicals, and other sources. Topics covered include biology, chemistry, earth & space science, environmental science, health & medicine, history of science, life science, physics, science & society, science as inquiry, scientists, technology and wildlife.
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Internet Journals
BioMed Central
BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher that has pioneered the open access publishing model. Original research articles published by BioMed Central are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. BioMed Central views open access to research as essential in order to ensure the rapid and efficient communication of research findings. All research articles in BioMed Central's journals receive rapid and thorough peer review. [About Us]

Look here for subject areas.
PLoS: Public Library of Science
Using the open access model, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) offers peer reviewed literature as a freely available public resource. The content is geared mainly toward biology and medicine.

Find Multimedia (Images, Audio, Video)

Image Resources
Neurons: Animated Cellular and Molecular Concepts
"This website, created by researchers at the University of Toronto, steps in to help answer such difficult questions [about the nature and activity of neurons] through interactive presentations and animations. Visitors will find twelve different topical sections here, including "Anatomy of a Neuron", "Axonal Transport", and "Neurotransmitter Release". Each of these sections includes dynamic visualizations, coupled with textual explanations that help users understand what's going on. And for visitors who find themselves having difficulty navigating the site, there is also a "How to Use the Program" primer that's quite nice. Additionally, teachers and others can download selected animations from the site for use in non-commercial purposes." [KMG, Internet Scout Report]

Basic usage tip: Start with the table of contents, and select a chapter. Then move through the "pages" of the chapter, by selecting numbers from the bottom left of the screen. Finally, click on the red text to the image to see an animation of the concept.
Video Resources
Rediscovering Biology: Molecular to Global Perspectives
Note: Free sign up is required for first-time users.
Also, be aware of these system requirements: 1. The latest version of Windows Media Player is installed on your computer. 2. You have a broadband connection to the Internet. 3. JavaScript is enabled on your browser.

"Getting ahead in the field of biology is important to young scholars, and staying on top of the material is important to their teachers. The Annenberg Media group has created this thirteen part (30 minutes each) video course for educators, and recently they placed the complete set of videos online here. The programs include interviews with expert scientists, detailed animations that provide a micro-level view of biological processes and techniques, and a number of learning activities. Visitors can take in each program at their leisure and they can also avail themselves of the link to the interactive website designed in tandem with the video series. Here, they are welcome to look over in-class activities, annotated animations, and case studies that will illuminate the materials introduced in the series. " [Internet Scout Report]

Topics include: Genomics, Proteins and Proteomics, Evolution and Phylogenetics, Microbial Diversity, Emerging Infectious Diseases, HIV and AIDS, Genetics of Development, Cell Biology and Cancer, Human Evolution, Neurobiology, Biology of Sex and Gender, Biodiversity and Genetically Modified Organisms.

Find News Articles

News Sources
New York Times, 1851 - 2008 (ProQuest)
ProQuest's Historical New York Times database offers full-text and article images beginning with the first issue.
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ProQuest Newsstand Complete
    Coverage varies, 1980's - present
Full-text of over 750 newspapers from the United States and around the world. Coverage begins in the 1980's and 1990's.

Both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press may be searched individually. (The Pioneer Press only goes back to April 21, 2010, while the Star Tribune goes back to 1986.)

Video tutorials:

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Science News (Online)
BBC News - Science/Nature
" The BBC is a unique institution, owned by the British people and independent of political and commercial interests. The BBC's purpose - largely unchanged in 80 years - is to enrich the life of every person in the UK with programmes that inform, educate and entertain." [Publisher information]
Today's Science (
    1992 - present
Today's Science @ presents and enhances the full backfile of Today's Science On File, a permanent record of the significant developments in science and technology published monthly since September 1992.
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Find Print & Online Books

MCTC Online Library Catalog
MCTC Library Catalog
Use the online catalog to search for books (and other resources such as DVDs, videos, & CDs). The catalog includes items physically located in the MCTC library, as well as online resources such as e-books.

Video tutorials:
All About Books

Basic Searching

Advanced Searching

Author Title Publisher Searching
Online Books (E-Books)
Bookshelf (NCBI)
Bookshelf (sponsored by the National Center for Biotechnology Information), the books division of the National Library of Medicine Literature Archive (LitArch), is an online collection of full-text books, reports, databases and other documents.

Bookshelf strives to represent the range of biomedical, health and life sciences books and resources available to scientists, health professionals, educators and students, and consumers, including specialist research, resources for university-level teaching, works on methods and procedures, and clinical reports and guidelines.
Other Online Catalogs
EBSCO eBooks (netLibrary)
Collection of over 12,500 full text, fully searchable electronic books from all subject areas including over 3,400 older "public domain" works. The recent ebooks are also available through the library catalog.
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Catalog of books, web resources, and other materials held in libraries worldwide. This free, web-based version of the resource will allow you to enter a zip code, and will locate libraries nearest to you that have the book you are looking for.

Find Style Manuals and Writing Guides

Style Manuals
MCTC Library APA Style Guide
This guide will help you to correctly cite your sources using the APA citation format. Prepared by MCTC librarians, it covers most of the common types of electronic and print resources. New! Updated to reflect changes in the 6th ed. of the APA Publication Manual, 2010.
MCTC Library MLA Style Guide
This guide demonstrates how to prepare citations for the types of sources most often included in a list of works cited, including both print and electronic resources.

Find Web Resources

Electronic Texts
Short Peer Review Guide (Sense About Science)
This short guide from the independent British group "Sense About Science" describes the process of review and gives clues on how to identify peer-reviewed research reports.
Gateways & Megasites
National Science Digital Library
"NSDL is the National Science Digital Library, the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s online library of resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and research. Resources available through NSDL include images, video, audio, animations, software, datasets, and of course text documents such as journal articles and lessons plans. In addition, NSDL provides services such as search, browse, help, news reports, and online community discussions." [from NSDL FAQ]

Note that some resources are provided at a fee (check to see if MCTC has these available for free). Also, you can search the NSDL by academic level of material (K-12, college, graduate study) by using the search options button.
Science Daily
An award-winning site with breaking news in the sciences, with major categories: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, Space & Time, Matter & Energy, Computers & Math, Fossils & Ruins. Quick links take you to summaries, headlines and top news stories. Ads are present but clearly marked.
Official Agency and Organization Web Sites
"The National Human Genome Research Institute led the Human Genome Project for the National Institutes of Health, which culminated in the completion of the full human genome sequence in April 2003." [Website description] This site has information for consumers, students, instructors and professional researchers.
American Council on Science and Health
ACSH is a national, non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) consumer health education and advocacy organization based in New York City. ACSH's mission is to ensure that peer-reviewed mainstream science reaches the public, the media, and the decision-makers who determine public policy. Our objective is to restore science and common sense to personal and public health decisions, in order to foster a scientifically sound and sensible public health policy for the American people. [From About Us]
American Society of Microbiology
The ASM site brings together information for microbiologists, studying "bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, mycoplasma, fungi, algae and protozoa--some of which cause diseases, but many of which contribute to the balance of nature or are otherwise beneficial. Microbiological research includes infectious diseases, recombinant DNA technology, alternative methods of energy production and waste recycling, new sources of food, new drug development, and the etiology of sexually transmitted diseases, among other areas." [from About ASM]

This site include Microbe Magazine.
BrainWeb & Brain Information
The BrainWeb and Brain Information (BWBI)was created by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization of neuroscientists.

"BrainWeb provides information and links to validated sites about brain diseases and disorders. These include outside resources reviewed by scientific advisors, as well as articles in Dana publications." [From website]
Human Genome Project
"Begun formally in 1990, the U.S. Human Genome Project was a 13-year effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. Project goals were to * identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA, * determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA, * store this information in databases, * improve tools for data analysis, * transfer related technologies to the private sector, and * address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project." [From website]
Microbial Life - Educational Resources
"This site contains a variety of educational and supporting materials for students and teachers of microbiology. You will find information about microorganisms, extremophiles and extreme habitats, as well as links to online provides information about the ecology, diversity and evolution of micro-organisms for students, K-12 teachers, university faculty, and the general public." [From website]
Created by Nature Education for Biology and Genetics, this site has learning tools, and interactive activities in the areas of genetics, cell biology, and ecology. Also contains some excellent information on scientific communication and career counseling.
The Biology Project
"An interactive online resource for learning biology developed at The University of Arizona. [...] It has been designed for biology students at the college level, but is useful for high school students, medical students, physicians, science writers, and all types of interested people." [Publisher's information] Covers topics in biochemistry, cell biology, developmental and human biology, immunology, genetics and molecular biology, with a special section on chemicals and human health.
Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas
"Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas is a web-based project of the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group. This site provides a compiled national list of invasive plants infesting natural areas throughout the U.S., background information on the problem of invasive species, illustrated fact sheets that include plant descriptions, native range, distribution and habitat in the U.S., management options, suggested alternative native plants, and other information, and selected links to relevant people and organizations." [From website]