Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Virginia earthquake waves ripple across the US!

Virginia earthquake waves ripple across the US!
A really cool video of the up and down movement of the August 23, 2011 earthquake.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Professional Ethics and Values in Biology and Ecology

A Question of Values
Here is a review that I have written:
Errington, Paul L.  1987.  A Question of Values.  Iowa State University Press, Ames.  ix + 196 p.  $18.95.  Edited by Carolyn Errington.

     This book is a selection of 15 essays written by Dr. Paul L. Errington, renowned for his influential views in the field of wildlife management and conservation.  The first three essays discuss predation and factors determining population levels of prey species.  Next, four essays describe the cyclic nature of the "terms in a biotic equation" of marsh habitats and the populations supported by these habitats.  Five essays tell of the author's experiences in the wilderness of northern Minnesota and Canada with special reference to wolves.  These give the reader insight into the personal life of the author and a feel for the outdoor work environment.  The next two essays discuss conservation.  This is where the central underlying theme of a "question of values" is raised.  The last essay is a discourse on what an enlightened civilization might be able to learn from studies of animal populations.  Taken all together, the essays revolve around a challenging speculation.  If the environment has qualities of value recognized by diverse interests, which values are to be included in decisions about management?  In addition, the maturity of the reasoning used to make decisions must be examined.  Included at the end of the book is "In Appreciation of Aldo Leopold," as well as, "An Iowa Boyhood," and a dedication to Dr. Arthur Karr Gilkey.  The bibliography contains a complete listing of Dr. Errington's publications:  214 books, journal articles, and reviews.  There is also a list of 10 biographical citations.
     This book will provide excellent supplemental reading for students of wildlife management, ecology, mammalogy, conservation, and those interested in the philosophy of values.  Researchers engaged in current ecological research will not find any new ideas, or explanations proposed, however, the narrative is descriptive and complete enough to point out areas where fundamental questions have not yet been answered.
     By using examples of his own experiences, Dr. Errington elucidates differences in reasoning between the public attitude concerning outdoor values and the studies of ecologists.  Predator-prey patterns in relationship to environmental quality, habitat availability, and behavior are discussed.  He points out that the studies of ecologists have led to standards of conduct, judgement, and philosophy.  He boldly states that:
"Recognizing that there have to be compromises, I should say that a civilized attitude would be to try to preserve a good deal of Nature in as natural condition as we can, if only for the sake of our own mental health.  From our own selfish standpoints, the good life needs more than man and the man-made.  To at least some civilized people, opportunities to enjoy and to reflect in the natural out-of-doors are as important as material comforts."
     Dr. Errington also asks that professionals, as well as the public, examine the maturity of their thinking and decisions.  "Reputable bird students have been among those who have outdone themselves in applying epithets to the horned owl, and we read of voraciousness, bloodthirstiness, blazing eyes, untamable savagery, and other attributes that are considered unattractive in wild animals.  These words may be applied to man, who coins such terms, but not to wild animals, acting under the compulsions of their natural way of life."  He also points out mistakes in management practices, such as cleaning up areas that should have been left alone, advocating control of native vertebrates, and campaigning against predatory species.  He attributes these mistakes to decisions based on faulty ideas, even when there has been adequate study.
     Iowa State University Press and Mrs. Errington are to be commended on the quality of the printing and editing.  Not only is the book thought provoking, it is also pleasing to the senses and an inspiration to those working in the field. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DNA Paper Model 2010- 2011

Originally uploaded by sneakerdoggy

If you are looking for the patterns and some pictures for the paper DNA model, please look at my April 8, 2007 posts! Starting with:
They include the directions and templates for making the model.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Research Papers and Mathematics Format - Equation Editor - Graphing and Lab Reports

Free download of equation editor. This editor is simple to use. This editor has good illustrative examples. The editor does not perform mathematical calculations. The resulting equations are easily transferred to Microsoft Word documents.


I am starting a collection of websites here for creating and printing graphs that can be used in research papers and lab reports.  My students have been assigned to write a typed formal lab report based on the natural selection simulation activity, Survival in the Bean Patch.

Here is a cartoon presentation of how the process of natural selection/evolution can work:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Protein Synthesis Board Game Project Activity

This project is still in progress, but I am posting what I have right now, and will add more information as the project develops.  I have added a picture.  I would suggest that students be told specifically that they are not allowed to make a puzzle.  I had some students do that because they considered that a game.  A puzzle just didn't quite meet the objectives that I had in mind.  Here are the instructions:

You are to create a board game that illustrates the process of protein synthesis. The objective of the game is to help you, and anyone who plays the game, to become more familiar with the over-all process of protein synthesis; the chemical nature of nucleic acids; and the roles of DNA, mRNA, tRNA, amino acids in the synthesis of proteins.
• The game can be of any sort (card game, board game, computer game, etc.) but it must
conform to the rubric provided on the back of these instructions, otherwise it will not be
• This is not a group project.
• Each person choosing to do this project must submit a typed complete set of rules for the game and include all materials, any game boards, game pieces, and game cards, etc.
• The game rules must include an objective for the game (how is the winner determined), a list of materials provided as part of the game, and any other items not provided with the game such as paper, pencils, etc. There must be a complete set of step-by-step instructions on how the game is to be played. In addition, the game must include a brief statement explaining how the game helps to either test a players knowledge, or helps a player learn more about protein synthesis. You may also incorporate the topics of mutations and cancer into your game, even though they are not required.
Time line:
• This assignment is due on Friday, March 25th.
• NO LATE PROJECTS WILL BE ACCEPTED. If you come to class on March 25th without a project, you will take the Chapter 12 exam.
The grade for this project will be based upon the rubric.
• The grade for the physical game is based upon the rubric and will be worth the same points and percentage as the Chapter 12 exam.
• You cannot do both a project and the Chapter 12 exam, so put some thought into your choice to either do a project, or take the exam. The content in Chapter 12, as well as topics of mutations, and cancer will be on the exam.

The rubric can be found at this link:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why is Evolution Important Now? Battling the Bedbug Epidemic and Cockroach avoidance of bait - Pesticide Resistance

Understanding evolution is a key to understanding pesticide resistance.

Please read my previous posts on this topic to learn how knowledge of the process of evolution is used to solve modern day problems.

Here is a National Geographic bed bug video:

A Natural fungus (biopesticide) may be effective in controlling bed bugs:

Cockroaches have shown to quickly evolve an avoidance of sweet tasting bait:

For more reasons to understand evolution, the following posts also address the question: Why is Evolution Important Now?

 For more reasons to understand evolution, the following posts also address the question: Why is Evolution Important Now?

 Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Extinction and Our Environment

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Disease Prevention

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Antibiotic Resistance

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Diseases and Food Production

Why Is Evolution Important Now? Understanding Predation

Why Is Evolution Important Now?  Invasive Species