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Information Resources and Services for:
BIO 245: Conservation Biology

Fall 2011
This page will guide you to major resources that will help you find scientific research on topics in conservation as well as secondary background information. Do make use of the librarians at the reference desk; they are there to help (even if they appear busy with the computer - they want to be interrupted). If you are not in the library, you can chat with a librarian online - or you can e-mail me: fister @ gustavus dot edu.

Librarian: Barbara Fister

Table of Contents:

Finding Primary Articles
Scientists typically submit formal research reports to journals, which then ask other scientists to review the work for soundness and significance. These are typical features of primary science articles:
  • The article is written by a scientist or group of scientists and their affiliation (lab or university) is listed.
  • An abstract, or summary, is provided before the text of the article itself. Often the abstract is included in a database, but the whole article has to be found elsewhere.
  • Related research is referenced in the introduction (or "literature review") and there are references at the end of the article.
  • The article reports on an experiment and the methodology is described so readers can see how valid the research is and might decide to use the same method.
  • Results are provided, often with data in the form of tables, charts, or maps.
  • The authors include some kind of conclusion that puts their findings in perspective.

  • Biological Sciences

    Citations and abstracts to research in all areas of biological sciences, including biomedicine, biotechnology, zoology, and ecology. Coverage is from 1982 to the present. Biological Sciences indexes over 6,000 primary journals plus patents, conference proceedings, books and reports.
  • Plant Science

    Indexes literature from 1994-present on pathology, symbiosis, biochemistry, and genetics.
  • Google Scholar

    This search engine points toward scholarly research rather than all Web-based sources. It is stronger in the sciences than in the humanities, with social sciences somewhere in between. One interesting feature of Google Scholar is that in includes a link to sources that cite a particular item. If you are using Google Scholar on campus, you will find articles available through the library's subscription databases linked. To view these links when searching off campus, use our Google Scholar Off Campus Link. Not all of the articles in Google Scholar are free; the library can obtain many of them for you through interlibrary loan.
Finding Background Information and Overview Articles
Textbooks digest and organize scientific findings into a systematic overview of knowledge. You can find similar coverage of issue in the library's reference section (on the main floor, by the windows on the Beck Hall side of the library). One useful feature of these kinds of sources is that they may list important primary science articles in their references - so you can identify the most influential classic books and articles.
  • Conservation (Earthscan Reference Collection)
    A collection of significant writings on the subject of conservation from John Muir and Henry David Thoreau to Arun Agrawal in four volumes arranged by topic - the idea of conservation, conservation of diversity, conservation and development, and the politics of conservation.
    • Location(s): Ref QH 76 .C657 2009
  • Encyclopedia of Biodiversity
    Provides in-depth, scholarly articles on topics ranging from agriculture, conservation, economic aspects of biodiversity, microbial biodiversity, public policy, and systematics.
    • Location(s): Ref QH 541.15 .B56 E53 2001
  • Encylopedia of Biological Invasions
    In a single volume, this handbook provides scholarly overviews of topics related to invasive species including concepts such as habitat compatibility and succession, human interventions such as early detection and the SCOPE project, and specific species and families such as zebra mussels and earthworms.
    • Location(s): Ref QH 353 .E53 2011
Websites Worth Knowing About
Much scientific research is not available online for free, but there are valuable free sites created by scientists, with these as examples.

Useful Google hacks:
If you want to limit a Google search to government publications, add after your search terms
If you want to look for scholarly papers, you might find it worthwhile to limit your search to pdf documents; add after your search terms filetype:pdf
Use the "more search tools" option on the left-hand side of Google results to limit a search by date. (The date limiter in Google Scholar is located on the toolbar at the top of the search results.)


    A website that serves as a portal for information on invasive species in Europe, including a database of species, an information system that includes further details about the most prominent invasive species, and a registry for scientists who have relevant expertise in conservation, biology and public policy relating to the environment.
  • GISIN: Global Invasive Species Information Network

    This international collaboration among scientists is an effort to track invasive species and provide information about their spread. It can be browsed by species or country or searched by a variety of variables.
  • Plants Database

    From the USDA's National Resources Conservation Service, provides basic information about plants growing in the US, including images, species abstracts, growth distribution, growth data, and more. Includes sections on "culturally significant" plants and invasive species.
  • Tree of Life

    A multi-authored Internet project containing information about phylogeny and biodiversity.

Page Coordinator: Barbara Fister
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