Biology Resources

The purpose of this guide is to lead the beginning researcher to the most important and useful sources in the Reference Collection and online for the study of biology.  The list of sources is not exhaustive; please consult with a Reference Librarian for additional suggestions. 

General Sources              Cellular & Molecular Biology            Environmental Biology           Human Biology

Organismal Biology (Zoology)         Biography   

 General Sources


The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference
(1995) by Patricia Barnes-Svarney, ed.  Call no. REF 500 Barnes-Svarney.

Scientific American Science Desk Reference (1999) by John Rennie, ed.  Call no.  REF 500 Scientific.

Scientific Words:  Their Structure and Meaning 1960) by W.E. Flood.  Call no. REF 501.4 FL.


Cellular & Molecular Biology


Dictionary of Microscopy by Julian P. Heath (2005) Call no.  REF 502.8203.

Longman Dictionary of Scientific Usage (1979) Call no. R 503 Longman.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (1994) Sybil P. Parker, ed.  Call no. REF 503 McGraw-Hill.

Oxford Dictionary of Biology (2008) REF 270.3 Dictionary.

Ultimate Visual Dictionary of Science (1998) by Lara Maiklem, ed.  Call no. REF 503 Ultimate.


The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Life Sciences by Adrian Friday and David S. Ingram (1970) Call no. R 574 CAM.

Concise Encyclopedia Biology by Peter M.B. Walker, ed.  (1990) REF 574.03 CHA.

Encyclopedia of Science Technology and Ethics by Carl Mitcham, ed. (2005)  Call no. REF 503 Encyclopedia.

Facts on File Encyclopedia of Science by Sharon Brimblecombe et al, eds.  (1999) Call no. REF 503 Facts.

Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia by Glenn D. Considine, ed. (2002)  Call no. REF 503 Van Nostrand's.


Science Handbook for Students, Writers and Science Buffs by Gordon J. Coleman and David DeWar (1997).  Call no. R 500 Coleman.

Websites  Virtual Library of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology
This gateway site provides resources in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology and related fields.  It is indexed by subject with annotated links.  While many of the resources listed on these pages are for scientists or advanced students, there are also resources labeled as "Beginner's Level", which require little or no background.  This site is maintained b y Gabriel Fenteany, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry, University of Illnois at Chicago.  You can search using keywords, or browse by subject or type of resource.

Biology Project
This interactive online resource for learning biology was developed at the University of Arizona.  It has been designed for biology students at the college level, but it is useful for high school students, medical students, physicians, science writers and others.  The subjects covered include biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, Mendelian genetics, human biology, molecular biology and vocabulary.  Each subject has problem sets based on multiple-choice questions. 

CELLS alive!
CELLS alive provides a visual, interactive tour of cells, bacteria, viruses and their interaction.  It includes movies of living cells, cell models, mitosis, cell cycle, movement of substances across cell membranes, etc.  To search for a specific topic, just click on the first letter of the alphabetized index, or scroll through it.


Environmental Biology


An Annotated Bibliography of Geothermal Information Published or Authored by Staff of the California Division of Mines and Geology 1960-1984 by Leslie G. Youngs (1985) Call no.  REF 551.23 YOU.

A Glossary of Ocean Science and Undersea Technology Terms by Lee M. Hunt and Donald G. Groves (1965) Call no. REF 551.46 HU.

Glossary of Weather and Climate by Ira W. Geer, ed.  (1996) Call no. R551.6 Glossary.

Oceans:  An Illustrated Reference by Dorrik Stow (2005)  Call no.  REF 551.46 STOW.

Oxford Companion to the Earth by Paul L. Hancock and Brian J. Skinner, eds. (2000) Call no. REF 550.3 Oxford.

Smithsonian Meteorological Tables by Robert J. List (1966) Call no. REF 551.5083 SM.

Volcanoes of North America United States and Canada by Charles Arthur Wood (1990) Call no.  REF 551.2 Volcanoes.

World Climatic Data by Frederick L. Wernstedt (1972) Call no. REF 551.5 WE.


The Oceans Atlas by Anita Ganeri (1994) Call no.  R551.46 Ganeri.


Challinor's Dictionary of Geology by Antony Wyatt, ed. (1986). Call no. REF 550.321 CHA.

Dictionary of Geological Terms by Robert L. Bates and Julia A. Jackson, eds. (1984)Call no. REF 550.321 DIC.

Ocean and Marine Dictionary by David F. Tver (1979) Call no.  REF 551.46 TVER.

Oxford Dictionary of Earth Sciences by Michael Allaby (2008)  Call no. REF 550.3 Dictionary.


Encyclopedia of Climatology by John E. Oliver and Rhodes W. Fairbridge (1987) Call no. REF 551.503 ENC.

Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes by David Ritchie and Alexander E. Gates PhD., eds. (2001) Call no. REF 551.203 Ritchie.

Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change by S. George Philander, ed. v 1-3 (2008) Call no.  REF 363.7387.

Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate by Michael Allaby (2002)  Call no. REF 551.603 Allaby.

MacMillan Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences by E. Julius Dasch, ed. (1996) Call no. REF 550.3 Macmillan.

Pollution A-Z  by Richard M. Stapleton, ed. (2004) Call no. REF 363.7303 Pollution.

The Water Encyclopedia
by Frits van der Leeden et al (1990) Call no. REF 553.7 VAN.


The Weather Handbook by McKinley Conway and Linda L. Liston, ed. (1990) Call no. REF 551.6 Weather.

NVC Online Databases

GreenFILE  This database focuses on the relationship between human beings and the environment, with well-researched but accessible information on topics ranging from global warming to recycling to alternate fuel sources and beyond.

Research Journals on the Internet

"The National Agricultural Library is one of four national libraries of the United States. It houses one of the world's largest and most accessible agricultural information collections and serves as the nexus for a national network of state land-grant and U.S. Department of Agriculture Field Libraries." 

BioOne is a collection of the full texts of various research journals focused on the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences.

Electronic Ecology Journals
The University of Delaware has created a marvelous subject guide for Electronic Journals for Ecology.

Google Scholar
Provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles.  Check out the "Advanced Search Option" and select the "Biology, Life Sciences and Environmental Science" option.

     What is Impact Factor?

  "The impact factor, often abbreviated IF, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to articles published in science and social science journals.  It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones.  The impact factor was devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), now part of Thomson Reuters.  Impact factors are calculated yearly for those journals that are indexed in Thomson Reuter's Journal Citation Reports" (Wikipedia, 2009).

High Impact Environmental Science Journals
The following is a list of a few high impact environmental science journals:

Conservation Biology
"Conservation Biology is the most influential and frequently cited journal in its field. The journal publishes groundbreaking papers and is instrumental in defining the key issues contributing to the science and practice of conserving Earth's biological diversity.  It is published by the Society of Conservation Biology."

Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) is a monthly journal of peer-reviewed research and news on the impact of the environment on human health. EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and its content is free online. Print issues are available by paid subscription."

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
This journal consists of peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of ecology, the environment, and related disciplines.

Global Change Biology
GCB exists to promote understanding of the interface between all aspects of current environmental change and biological systems.

Global Environmental Change
This is an international, interdisciplinary journal spanning the social and natural sciences.


A portal for environmental information worldwide.

Ecology WWW Page
The Ecology WWW Page is an extensive database of ecology sites on the Internet.  It is an excellent resource for teachers, students, and researchers. is a gateway to government science information and research results.  Search over 40 scientific databases and 200 million pages of science information with just one query.

Organizations and Associations

California Department of Fish and Game

Environmental Protection Agency

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

State of California Department of Conservation

United States Geological Survey


Human Biology

See Anatomy and Physiology



 Organismal Biology (Zoology)

The following print sources can be found in the McCarthy Library reference collection. 


Raptors:  The Birds of Prey:  An Almanac of Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of the World.  Scott Weidensaul (1996)  Call no. R598.91 Weidensaul.

The Shark Almanac:  A Fully Illustrated Natural History of Sharks, Skates and Rays.  Thomas B. Allen.  Call no.  REF 597.3 Allen.


World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation.  Julian Caldecott and Lera Miles, eds.  (2005)  Call no. REF 599.88 World.


Bird's Eggs:  A Visual Guide to the Eggs of over 500 Brid Species from Around the World.  Michael Walters (1994).
Call no.  R 598.233 Walters.

Butterfly Book.  W. J. Holland.  (1944).  Call no:  REF 595.789 HO.

Butterfies and Moths.  Norman Riley, editor (1970).  Call no. R595.78 Warner.

Butterfies of the World.  Valerio Sbordoni and Saverio Forestiero (1984).  Call no. R595.789 SBO.

Lives of North American Birds.  Kenn Kaufman (1996).  Call no.  REF 598.097 Kaufman.

Living Snakes of the World in Color.  John M. Mehrtens (1987).  Call no.  REF 597.96 Meh.

North American Mammals:  A Photographic Album for Artists and Designers.  James Spero (1978).  Call no.  R 599.0022 NORTH.

The Shell:  Five Hundred Million Years of Inspired Design.  Hugh and Marguerite Stix and R. Tucker Abbott (1968)
Call no.  REF 594 St. 

The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals.  Don E. Wilson and Sue Ruff, eds.  (1999)  Call no. REF 599.097 Smithsonian.

World List of Mammalian Species.  Gorden B. Corbet and J.E. Hill (1980).  Call no. R599.0012 Corbet. 


A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics.  Roger Lincoln et. al (1998)  Call no. REF 570.3 Lincoln.

Dictionary of Birds in Color by Bruce Campbell (1974).  Call no.  REF 598.2 Campbell.

Fishes of the World:  An Illustrated Dictionary.  Alwayne Wheeler (1975).  Call no.  REF 597 Wheeler.


Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds.  Jon K. Terres  (1980)  Call no. 598.297 TERRES.

Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ornithology.  Michael Brooke and Tim Birkhead, eds.  (1991)  Call no.  REF 598 Cambridge.

Encyclopedia of Aquatic Life.  Dr. Keith Banister and Dr. Andrew Campbell, eds.  (1986)  Call no.  REF 591.92 ENC.

Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior.  Marc Bekoff, ed. (2004) Call no.  REF 591.503 Encyclopedia v1-3.

Encyclopedia of Birds.  Dr. Christopher M. Perrins and Dr. Alex L.A. Middleton (1985).  Call no.  REF 598 Encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of Butterflies.  John Feltwell (1993).  Call no. REF 595.789 Feltwell.

Encyclopedia of Endangered Species.  Mary Emanoil, editor (1994)  Call no.  REF 574.529 Encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of Evolution.  Mark Pagel, editor (2003) v1-2.  Call no.  REF 576.803 Encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of Evolution:  Humanity's Search for Its Origins.  Richard Milner (1990)  Call no.  R573.203 MIL.

Encyclopedia of Human Evolution and Prehistory.  Eric Delson, Ian Tattersall, John A. Couvering and Alison S. Brooks, eds.  (2000)  Call no. REF 599.938 Encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Professor David MacDonald, ed.  (2000) Call no. REF 599.03 Encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians.  Dr. Tim Halliday and Dr. Kraig Adler  (1986)  Call no.  R 597.6 HAL.

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia.  Dr. Bernhard Grzimek, ed. (1974) v1-9.  Call no.  REF 591 Grzimek.

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Second Edition.  Michael Hutchins, series editor (2004) v1-17.  Call no.: REF 598 Grzimek.

Grzimerk's Encyclopedia Mammals v1-5.  (1990)  Call no.  REF 599 GRZ.

Intertidal Invertebrates of California.  Robert H. Morris et al. (1981) Call no.  REF 592 Morris.

New Encyclopedia of Snakes.  Chris Mattison  (2007)  Call no.  REF 597.96 Mattison.

Poisonous and Venmous Marine Animals of the World.  Bruce W. Halstead, M.D. (1965) v1-3.  Call no.  REF 591.6 Ha.

Field Guides

A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies.  Roger Torry Peterson (1980)  Call no.  R598.297 Peterson.

The Birder's Handbook:  A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds.  Paul R. Ehrlich, Davis S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye (1988)  Call no. REF 598.297 EHR.

The Butterfies of North America:  A Natural History and Field Guide.  James A. Scott (1986)  Call no.  REF 595.78 SCO.

Where the Birds Are:  A Guide to All 50 States and Canada.  John Oliver Jones (1990)  Call no. 598.0723473 Jon.

Seabirds:  An Identification Guide.  Peter Harrison (1983)  Call no. REF 598.2924 HAR.

Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region (1996) Call no.  REF 598.2978 Stokes.

Handbooks and Manuals

American Insects:  A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico.  Ross H. Arnett, Ph.D.  (1985) Call no. R595.7097 ARN.

Bugs of the World.  George C. McGavin (1993)  Call no.: R595.754 McGavin.

Handbook of Snakes.  Albert Hazen Wright and Anna Allen Wright (1957) Call no.  REF 598.12 WR.

The Light and Smith Manual Intertidal Invertebrates from Central California to Oregon.  James T. Carlton, ed. (2008)  Call no.:  REF 592.177 Light.

The Sierra Club Handbook of Seals and Sirenians.  Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Steward and Stephen Leatherwood (1992)  Call no. REF 599.745 Reeves.


Animal Diversity Web:  Class Aves
This site, by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, functions like a natural history encyclopedia by offering information about the structure and classification of birds, basic concepts of ecology and evolutionary biology.  Brief reports are provided on dozens of birds.  The information provided includes:  diversity, habitat, systematic and taxonomic history, physical description, development, reproduction, behavior, etc. 

This online database provides conservation, and taxonomy information for every recognized species of amphibian in the world. 

Animal Info:  Information on Endangered Mammels
This site offers a searchable listing of endangered mammals worldwide.  Species are also indexed by common and scientific name, group and country.  Each entry includes a species profile, status and trends, biological and ecological data, and references.  The site also includes links to related organizations, web sites and publications.

BirdNet is a gateway of ornithological information provided by the Ornithological Council, which is comprised of ten North American professional ornithological societies.

The Canadian Arachnologist
All things arachnid; the emphasis is on Canadian species, but it is quite comprehensive nevertheless, and there are many links and references.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology - All About Birds
This site is backed with great information such as birding basics (including a Gear Guide), News and Events, a comprehensive bird guide, and conservation.  It includes sample sounds from the lab's extensive library of animal sounds and videos (covering more than just birds). 

Darwin Online
All of Charles Darwin's publications have been digitized and are freely available here.  Darwin Online includes handwritten manuscripts, notebooks, diaries and journals.

Encyclopedia of Life
"Encyclopedia of Life is a global partnership between the scientific community and the general public.  The goal is to make freely available to anyone knowledge about all the world's organisms.  Expert curators ensure the quality of the core collection by authenticating materials submitted by diverse projects and individual contributors."

This database covers nearly all fish species known (over 31,000). The search form offers multiple search and browse options including searching by scientific or common name; by country or by author's name (for reference). 

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
GBIF seeks to digitize and make freely available biodiversity information from around the world.  It is hosted by the University of Copenhagen-Denmark.

This is a collaboration of natural history museums worldwide working on establishing a network of collections data for researchers.  It includes links to similar projects for other taxa.  It is partially funded by the National Science Foundation.

International Field Guides
Biology librarian Diane Schmidt, at the University of Illinois, compiled this guide, which merges with her book: A Guide to Field Guides:  Identifying the Natural History of North America.  The result is a searchable database of field guides for animals, plants and more from North America and around the world.

MarineBio is a non-profit organization.  This site contains great links to other resources including lists of endangered species, a newsletter, and more.  Covers all marine taxa, including reptiles and birds as well as sharks/rays, cephalopods and marine mammels.

NetVet: Fish provides an extensive collection of  resources of scientific and educational value. 

Taxonomic Web Sites
There are a number of sites that keep up with the ever-changing names of animals and the knowledge of their even more rapidly changing relationships.  They include: 

ICZN:  The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
The ICZN was founded in 1895 and oversees the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.  It is supported by and includes links to many organizations and supports Zoobank, the world register of animal names.

ITIS:  The International Taxonomic Information System
Another good site, the ITIS includes plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North American and the world.

Science 2.0:  Ecology & Zoology
Science 20.0 strives to be an open source science community.  It contains articles written by members from all disciplines.  It contains grey literature (that which is not controlled by commercial publishers).  Science blogging is also available on this site.

Tree of Life
Tree of Life contains not only taxonomic information, but also has reference and many links.  It is an excellent source of cladistic information, so that you can easily trace relationships among organisms, and it also makes clear where there is controversy.

UBIO:  Universal Biological Indexer and Organizer from the Marine Biological Institute
This site uses names and taxonomic intelligence to manage information about organisms.  It includes classification information, synonyms, and common names.

University of Washington Zoology Resources
This site contains some great links to zoology websites.

Endangered species

Animal Info
This very organized site has information on rare and endangered mammals.  You can search or browse by species, category, or country; find links to organizations and other site; and search a glossary and fact sheets for U.S. mammals.

This is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide the scientific basis for effective conservation action.  It has reliable information about species and ecosystems in trouble.

Red List
Red List, from the World Conservation Union, provides the most up-to-date and authoritative information about the status of threatened and endangered animals.

Literature Databases

Biodiversity Heritage Library
The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a consortium of ten of the world's largest natural history libraries, which have agreed to digitize sections of their print holdings and make this information freely available over the Internet.  It includes items either out of copyright or for which copyright permissions have been obtained.  Current members include the American Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum, two libraries at Harbard University (the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Botany Libraries), the Marine Biological Laboratory/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Missouri Botanical Garden and the Smithsonian Institution. 

Biology Browser
This is a free bibliographic database from Thompson.  You can browse by Organism, Subject, Geography or all three at once.  While it is not BIOSIS, Thomson's subscription database, it is still a useful site, with lots of helpful options like Directories, Hot Topics, and a Biology News Net that provides a very readable synopses of the latest articles.

U.S. Government Sites

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The USFWS is a rich, well-maintained and useful site, with links to topics such as legislation, grants, permits, as well as species information and much more.

Societies and Organizations 

Zoos and museums are often good sources of information.  Bigger ones often have very rich sites, with a wide variety of information.  Look for education resources, or search the site by taxa.  Here are a few to try:

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Publishers of the journal Copeia, this site includes guidelines for the use of fish, reptiles and amphibians in research.

American Society of Mammalogists (ASM)
Special features of this site include a Mammal Image Library.  Some open access to articles from the Journal of Mammalogy are provided.

Brookfield Zoo:  The Field Guide to the Animals
This site has basic information on many species.

Entomological Society of America
This society is the major publisher of entomological journals.  Under "Resources" check out the Frequently Asked questions.  Under "Publications", there is a list of Common Names of Insects and Related organisms.

San Diego Zoo - Animal bytes
This site contains information on specific animals.




Dictionary of Scientific Biography by Charles Coulston Gillispie, ed.  REF 509.2 Dictionary.

Copyright (C) 2014 Napa Valley College                                                  By:  Napa Valley College Library
Last updated:  Sept 29, 2014                                                                 Questions & Comments: Nancy McEnery