Main Content

BI 102 - General Biology


The following guide is intended to provide an overview of resources available in the library and online on the four topics about which you will choose one and complete a short presentation. The topic areas are 1) evolution 2) diversity (organisms) 3) ecology/ environmental science 4) animal behavior. For further assistance, please take advantage of the reference services available to you in the library. Stop by the Reference Desk in person or online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of Web pages named Library Research Guides, designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. On the Research Guides pages, you will find a one-page guide on Research Strategy and a helpful guide about evaluating your Web sources, Evaluating Websites.  Also, we've newly completed a Virtual Tour which walks you through the service points of the library and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please take advantage of these resources.


Arrangement of Print Book Materials

Call number ranges for biology materials within your topic areas are listed below. Please be aware of the fact that sometimes your topic will intersect with other topics, causing the call numbers to vary from these ranges.

GE-GF            Environment / Human Ecology

QH                  Evolution, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Cell Biology

QK                  Botany

QL                   Zoology (includes Animal Behavior)

SB                  Plant Culture (includes Horticulture)


Return to top


Reference Sources for Background Information


Print Reference books are shelved near the reference desk. Use the call numbers listed above to locate appropriate reference books. They will be helpful in topic selection as well as providing background information once you have decided on a presentation area. Reference books may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the Library. The Oxford Reference collection listed here is available in online format and can be accessed from any location. Here are some helpful titles to get you started.

American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
     Ref SB403.2 .A438

     Ref QL45.2 .A56

Beacham's Guide to Environmental Issues & Sources
     Ref GE115.B43 (5 vols.)

Cambridge Dictionary of Human Biology and Evolution
     Ref QP34.5 .M24

Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
     Ref QH540.4 .L56

A Dictionary of Zoology
     Ref QL9 .D5

Encyclopedia of Evolution
     Ref QH360.2 .E54 (2 vols.)

Encyclopedia of Genetics
     Ref QH427 .E53

Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory
     Ref GN281 .E53

Encyclopedia of Underwater Life

Grzimek Animal Life Encyclopedia
     From the Gale Virtual Reference Library

Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals
     Ref QL701 .G7913

Oxford Reference Collection Online: Biological Sciences
Included within this online reference source are these: Dictionary of Animal Behaviour, Dictionary of Biology, Oxford Companion to the Body, Dictionary of Ecology, Dictionary of the Plant Sciences, Dictionary of Scientists and Dictionary of Zoology.


Return to top


Texts (on Reserve)

Please ask for these materials at the Library Circulation Desk. You may use them in the library but they may not be checked out. These titles will be quite helpful in topic selection and to get you started with basic information. Most of them have bibliographies which are helpful for finding further information.

  • Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach
    QL751 .A58 2005
  • Biology of the Invertebrates
    QL362 .P43 2005
  • Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology
    QK47 .M38 2003
  • Citizen's Guide to Ecology
    QH541 .S54 2003
  • Cultural History of Plants
    SB71 .C86 2005
  • Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems
    QH541 .B415 2006
  • Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance
    QH541 .K67 2001
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the
    Making of the Animal Kingdom
    QH453 .C37 2005
  • Environmental Science: A Global Concern
    GE105 .C86 2007
  • Evolution of American Ecology
    QH540.83.U6 K56 2005
  • Evolution vs Creationism
    QH367 .S395 2004
  • Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem
    QK604.2.C64 F86 2005
  • Good News for a Change: How Everyday People are Helping the Planet
    GE195 .S877 2002
  • Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs
    QE881 .K53 2004
  • What Evolution Is
    QH366.2 .M3933 2001


Return to top


Find Common and Scientific Names

Biology Data Book
General Collection QH310 .A39
Tables in the appendix of each volume give scientific names and the corresponding common names of all living things.

ITIS: Integrated Taxonomic Information System
This government site provides authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world. Includes over 390,000scientific names and can be accessed by common name or scientific name, whichever is known.

Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms
Ref QH83 .S89 (2 vols.)
This two volume set is arranged into four kingdoms: virus, monera, plantae, and animalia. The second volume contains an index of scientific names.


Return to top


Subject Searching

There are many other useful book materials in the general collections of the Library. Use the Library Catalog or WorldCat to locate book materials on your topics. Perform a SUBJECT search using one or more of the following headings to get you started:

  • Botany
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Evolution (Biology) - see sample screen below
  • Human Evolution
  • Invertebrates
  • Vertebrates
  • Zoology
  • Animal Behavior
  • Mycology
  • Fungi
  • Ecology

Screen of catalog search

The subject headings listed above will permit you to drill down for more specialized subjects. For example, here are some related headings for the general subject of Botany:

Screenshot of catalog search


For a complete list of Library of Congress Subject Headings, consult the WorldCat database. At the first search screen you will notice a series of blue buttons on the gray bar at the top of the page. One of these buttons is the 'SUBJECTS' link, and you should click on that button. You will then be taken to a page titled "Find Preferred Subject Headings," and you can then type your topic into the search box and then use the 'Expand' command. A list of related headings will appear. For example, here is what you'll see if you perform an 'expand' command on the word 'reptiles'.

Screenshot of WorldCat search


Return to top


Keyword Searching

Try keyword searching in both the library Catalog (for Books) and the journal article databases listed below. Keyword searching can return very effective results if you employ the following search tips:

  • Connect your search words and phrases with Boolean operators. Example: global warming AND oceans
  • When combining Boolean operators in one search statement, use parentheses to show the order in which relationships should be considered. Example: (global warming OR climate change) AND oceans
  • Use truncation symbols (usually an asterisk) to search for stem words and their variants. Example: (global warming OR clima* change* ) AND ocean*


Return to top


Find Journal Articles

Listed below are the major online databases that access the journal literature of biological sciences. Hundreds of biology journal titles are indexed in these databases and many of them are available full-text online. Here are a few:

  • Animal Behavior (print collection only)
  • Freshwater Biology
  • Invertebrate Biology
  • Human Biology
  • Evolution
  • Nature
  • Quarterly Review of Biology
  • Science

Notice that some of the databases listed below index books or book chapters in addition to journal articles. Begin with keyword searches and then find links to appropriate subjects. If it appears that Geisel Library does not own the needed item, then a link will usually be supplied to our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service. Please see more about ILL below.

Academic Search Premier

  • Multidisciplinary
  • Lots of full-text
  • Some articles are scholarly
  • Good place for secondary source or general readings


  • Highly specialized for agricultural sciences
  • No full-text
  • Interlibrary loan may be needed
  • Search engine is like Google's

Biological Sciences (CSA)

  • Comprehensive for biology
  • Also indexes books (journals too)
  • No full text but links may sometimes be supplied
  • All material is scholarly
  • Interlibrary Loan may be needed for many
  • Good place for primary source materials


  • Good for environment and ecology
  • Full-text

Google Scholar

  • Accesses books and journals
  • Some full-text
  • Use Interlibrary Loan service if no full-text
  • Scope and comprehensiveness varies


  • Includes a sizeable Biological Sciences collection
  • All full-text
  • Most are from peer-reviewed journals
  • Latest years of coverage is lacking

LexisNexis Academic

  • Good place for news articles and current events
  • Most is full-text
  • Useful for finding topics of contemporary interest


  • If your research intersects with medicine
  • Some full-text
  • Medline is part of PubMed
  • It is easy to determine whether we own the needed item

Plant Science

  • If your research intersects with plant science
  • No full-text

SciFinder Scholar

  • If your research intersects with chemistry
  • No full-text
  • Also indexes books (journals too)


Return to top


About WebBridge and Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan just got easier! The library has recently installed new software called WebBridge. WebBridge will let you know whether we own an item in electronic or print form. Click the WebBridge button and look for links to the item's full-text or to our catalog. If we don't have access to the item, WebBridge automatically completes an interlibrary loan form for you. No more copy/pasting data elements from a citation to an ILL form.

Please read the WebBridge info carefully. If the book or article is available locally, you will not be able to obtain it through Interlibrary Loan.


Return to top


Selected Websites

This is not a comprehensive listing of web sites, but rather a selected list of sites that either offer comprehensive listings, links or search engines. Consult the Biology Subject Guide for additional Websites. If you are looking for peer-reviewed journal information, it is probably going to be more efficient to consult the list of journal databases listed above.


A free website from BIOSIS.

Biology News Net
The latest news and articles on popular topics. International focus. Can set up RSS news feeds.

Biology Web Resources from Westfield State College
Ely library compiles useful links for undergrads. List contains links to general, biodiversity , biomedical, genetics and more.

Encyclopedia of Life
The Encyclopedia of Life, launched in 2008, is a global cooperative effort to fully catalog and describe more than 1.8 million species.


Evolutionary Biology Resources from Saint Anselm College
Developed by Dr. Jay Pitocchelli for use as supplementary class material.

Living Links
Located at Emory University, the Center, "this Website specializes in comparisons of the social life, ecology, cognition, neurology, and molecular genetics of apes and humans."

Organismal Diversity

Animal Diversity Web
An online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology from the University of Michigan.

EE-Link Endangered Species
Includes endangered species lists for plants and animals, regionally and globally.

Electronic Sites of Leading Botany, Plant Biology and Science Journals
"These are links to journals in which articles concerning plant biology are published. The sites will almost always have Tables of Contents available free and may frequently have selected articles, or the entire text online."
Online searchable field guides to over 4800 plant and animal species.

Internet Directory for Botany
A collection of links to resources and images.

Plants Database
Provides a single source of standardized information about plants.

Scott's Botanical Links / U of Oklahoma
Compilation of botany education resources for advanced high school and college levels.

Tree of Life
This site provides information about the diversity of organisms, their evolutionary history, and characteristics.

Web Lift to Taxa
From the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) at Berkeley. Includes vertebrates and invertebrates.

The WWW Virtual Library: Mycology

Ecology & Environment

Ecology WWW page
An alphabetical list with no subject directory, although there is a site search function.

Environmental Protection Agency
A considerable number of full-text files are available on this EPA site, such as excerpts from the Federal Register related to the environment and transcripts of speeches.

National Library for the Environment
Created by the National Council for Science and the Environment, "to improve the scientific basis for making decisions on environmental issues."

Animal Behavior

Animal Diversity Web
From the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, this site contains "thousands of species accounts about individual animal species.

Digital Librarian: Animals
Links for many Websites are offered here.


Return to top


Citing  Sources

Citing Information: CSE/CBE Style

CSE Citation Style Examples

USE "Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers"
Paper copy: Ready Ref T11 .S386


Return to top


Need More Help?


 Ask a Librarian


Return to top