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Links related to Aquaria, Microcosms and Artificial Ecosystems:

1) Background information.
2) Academic research facilities and organizations.
3) Funding sources.
4) Commercial uses of ecosystems.
5) Links related to "traditional" aquarium management, aquarium products and the aquarium industry.
6) Links to specific public aquaria.
7) Professional Associations and other information about public aquaria.
8) Biological field stations.
9) Links related to K-12 ecology and ecosystem education.
10 Environmental Education Policy.
11)Microscope links.

1) Background information:

Are you a non-scientist who wants a quick crash course on basic ecology? Are you new to the field and want to learn about the latest trends in aquatic biology and marine science? Check out these links as a starting point.

A variety of theories have been suggested to explain the complicated, interacting factors that control biological diversity, community structure and resource cycling in ecosystems. Some knowledge of these theories is important if we want to truly understand the dynamics of an ecologically-based aquarium or artificial ecosystem. Dr Ted Schuur of the University of Florida teaches an undergraduate ecology class and has generously made his lecture notes available
here. Of particular interest is the web supplement on "Community Structure and the Biogeography of Diversity" which is available here.

Another introduction to biodiversity theory.

Competitive Exclusion.

Intermediate Disturbance.

The Gaia Hypothesis.
The well known, controversial and intriguing ideas of James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis.

Exploring Biodiversity.
A collection of high quality learning resources and online seminars covering a variety of topics related to biodiversity. Ideal for teachers and amateur or professional scientists who want to continue their journey of life-long-learning.

Mutualistic Biodiversity Networks.
An interesting essay with a useful glossary and references. "Emphasis is made on the kinship between biodiversity and mutualistic associations, as the framework for a functional ecosystem. As shall be seen, species are inextricably linked, forming networked systems. They benefit from innumerable complementary interactions within networks that encompass the species, trophic, guild, ecosystem, biome and biosphere scales."

The Necessity of Scavengers in a Marine Reef Tank.
Article from Aquarium.Net.

Dynamic Aquaria: Building Living Ecosystems.
Important book by Walter Adey and Karen Loveland that describes Adey's approach to ecological aquarium construction and maintenance.

The Biology Department of California State University, Fullerton, has a web site for its Field Marine Biology class that includes a great page of useful links. The portal includes 11 sections with about 10-30 links in each section. The sections are: "Marine Biology", "Marine Organisms and Habitats", "Marine Animals", "Marine Labs", "Marine Aquaria", "Systematics and Evolution", "General Biology", "Microscopes", "Earthquakes and Volcanoes", "Earth Maps and Images" and "Weather and Tide Predictions".

Underwater Times.
Extremely useful daily journal of life in and around water. Includes aquatic conservation news stories from all over the world.

Still interested? Got a lot of time on your hands? Then take a look at one of my "works in progress": Maintenance Manual for the Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology Department's Model Ecosystem Aquarium Displays. It's a real page turner. In the end, it turns out that the second law of thermodynamics did it.

Also, you might like to get acquainted with something I call "Rob Day's multiple microhabitat pond microcosm concept"

2) Academic research facilities and organizations:

Learn about cutting-edge marine / aquatic / artificial ecosystem research. There are hundreds of research facilities like these around the world. I include only a small sample selected entirely on the basis of my own bias; most of these are doing research that I just happen to think is interesting.

Biosphere 2.
Controversial and fascinating artificial ecosystem and teaching facility constructed in the Arizona desert.

Nasa's artificial ecosystems in space research pages.
Will humans ever be able to live permanently in space? These pages tend to keep moving, so let me know if the link stops working.

National fish and Wildlife Foundation
Includes conservation information and research grant programs.

Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI).

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
One of the nation's premiere aquarium research facilities

The Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit.
This exhibit is an outgrowth of research by Walter Adey at the Smithsonian's Marine Systems Lab. Dr Adey has been a big influence on my aproach to teaching Ecology and Zoology. It seems only fair that I link with them here. Read "Dynamic Aquaria" by Adey and Loveland for more information.

Mote Marine Laboratory.
Activities here include research on aquaculture and eco-toxicology as well as educational outreach and marine distance learning.

Olentangy River Wetland Research Park.
Impressive ecological research facility created and staffed by The Ohio State University.

The HUB-Robeson Aquarium at Penn State.
University aquarium projects are rarely well-funded enough to compete aesthetically with the large national aquaria that attract thousands of paying visitors. Penn State's displays appear to be an exception to that rule.

School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University.
Of particular interest at this site is the Biodiversity Research group and a synopsis of Rob Whittaker's recent book "Island Biogeography: ecology, evolution and conservation".

National Sea Grant Program.
Information about the many sea grant research activities and links to the various regional programs. Check out your own state's Sea Grant program if it has one.
Why use an ELN?

What are FFPE tissue samples, where do they come from and why are they so useful in modern biomedical research?

3) Funding sources:

Note that a couple of these organizations also appear in section 2 above because they both perform and fund research. Since this is a VERY important section I would once again ask for any other suggestions to add to this list. Good luck with your grant applications!

National fish and Wildlife Foundation
Includes conservation information and research grant programs.

National Sea Grant Program.
Information about the many sea grant research activities and links to the various regional programs. Check out your own state's Sea Grant program if it has one.

Environmental education on the internet. A portal with links to multiple environmental grants.

National Council for Science and the Environment.
A portal with links to multiple environmental grants.

Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF).
This is an independent public grant-making entity whose mission is to develop environmental solutions for the future.

Grant section of Environmental Protection Agency.
The Grant Program sponsored by EPAÍs Office of Environmental Education supports environmental education projects that enhance the publicÍs awareness, knowledge, and skills to make informed decisions that affect environmental quality.

Compton Foundation Inc.
A private foundation whose overall goal is the prevention of environmental deterioration and the protection of natural resources.

4) Commercial uses of ecosystems:

Businesses and technologies related to artificial ecosystems; typically water management, bioremediation, aquaculture or ecologically-based aquaria.

You can buy a small, sealed ecosystem from Ecosphere Incorporated

Inland Aquatics.
This is an Indiana company that specializes in ecologically- based aquaria.

Using Constructed Wetlands for Removing Contaminants from Livestock Wastewater.
A fact sheet provided by the Ohio State University School of Natural Resources.

Living Technologies.
This company specializes in ecologically-based bioremediation techniques.

What are so-called "greenroofs" or "eco-roofs"?
A fantastic idea. Simple , obvious, relatively easy. Why isn't everyone doing it? This is possibly the ONLY way to allow something remotely like an ecosystem to continue to exist in urban and industrial areas. Next time you fly, look out the window as you take off or land, then estimate how much new habitat this could create for living things. Write to your government representative and tell them to make this mandatory by law for all new flat top buildings.

Ocean Arks International
A company that specializes in ecosystem engineering waste water management and aquaculture technologies. They have a very informative web site featuring some extremely useful papers such as "The Design of Living Technologies for Waste Treatment" and "Twelve Principles for the Design of Ecologically Engineered Systems". I can't help noticing that their "twelve principles" are very similar to my own "twenty most valuable pointers". It's nice to find other people who have come to the same conclusions.

Nature Aquarium World.
Commercial site that includes useful information and details about the company's "Aqua Journal" publication.

Build your own enviromentally friendly swimming pool.
An article from Permaculture Magazine. "Solutions for Sustainable Living".

5) Links related to "traditional" aquarium management, aquarium products and the aquarium industry:

These links point primarily at information about maintaining a "traditional" aquarium or "fish tank". I define a fish tank as simple container of water with nothing much alive in it except the sad-looking fish (and even they probably won't last long). We've all seen them at restaurants, casinos, hotels foyers, airports, offices..... even in our homes. If you haven't already guessed, I am not a big fan of fish tanks. I think they are a sad commentary on humankind's relationship with nature. Animals are not ornaments or toys and they should not be considered disposable. My view is that fish should always be part of an ecosystem, or at least a viable breeding population. Let's not delude ourselves; most aquarium fish captured in the wild live short miserable lives in captivity and buying them generates a demand that ultimately leads to environmental degradation. However, since many species can now be captive bred, and since I do get a lot of questions about fish keeping and aquarium filtration, I provide the following links in the hope that it will help some captives live longer, happier lives.

Marine Aquarium Council.

Fish Information Service (FINS).

Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (FAMA) magazine.

American Marinelife Dealers Association.

A portal with many useful links to other aquarium resources.

Aquarium Hobbyist.

Aquarium Systems.
Aquarium supply company with a genuine interest in marine conservation and aquarium research. I have had some very positive interactions with this company in the past.

Aquarium Design.
A commercial design and aquarium construction company.

Aquarium Central.

Lycos aquarium information page.

From the Marine Aquarium Society of Los Angeles (MACLA).
Useful site with lots of technical information on seawater chemistry.

6) Links to specific public aquaria:

Did I forget any? If you want to see your favorite public aquarium added to this list just email me a link to its web site.

Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium. (Getna, Nebraska)

Aquarium of the Bay. (San Francisco, California)

Aquarium of the Pacific. (Long Beach, California)

Aquarium of the Americas. (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Birch Aquarium. (La Jolla, California)

Cabrillo High School Aquarium. (Caprillo, California)

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. (Caprillo, California)

Clearwater Marine Aquarium. (Clearwater, Florida)

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. (Columbus, Ohio)

Great Lakes Aquarium. (Duluth, Minnesota)

Gulfarium. (Ft Walton Beach, Florida)

Georgia Aquarium. (Atlanta, Georgia)

Gulf of Maine Aquarium. (Portland, Maine)

Key West Aquarium. (Key West, Florida)

London Aquarium. (London, UK)

Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Monterey, California)

Mote Marine Lab (& Aquarium). (Sarasota, Florida)

Mystic Aquarium. (Mystic, Connecticut)

National Aquarium in Baltimore. (Baltimore, Maryland)

National Aquarium of Washington D.C. (Washington, D.C)

National Marine Aquarium. (Plymouth, UK)

New England Aquarium. (Boston, Massachusetts)

New Jersey State Aquarium. (Camden, New Jersey)

New York Aquarium. (Bronx, New York)

Newport Aquarium. (Newport, Kentucky)

Oklahoma Aquarium. (Jenks, Oklahoma)

Oregon Aquarium. (Newport, Oregon)

Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokeys. (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

Ripley's Aquarium Myrtle Beach. (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)

Seattle Aquarium. (Seattle, Washington)

Shedd Aquarium. (Chicago, Illinois)

Steinhart Aquarium. (San Francisco, California)

Sydney aquarium. (Sydney, Australia)

Tennessee Aquarium. (Chattanooga, Tennessee)

Texas State Aquarium. (Corpus Christi, Texas)

The Dallas World Aquarium. (Dallas, Texas)

The Deep. (Hull, UK)

The Florida Aquarium. (Tampa, Florida)

The Maritime Aquarium. (Norwalk, Connecticut)

The North Carolina Aquariums. (Fort Fisher, Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina)

Toba Aquarium, Japan. (Toba, Japan)

Vancouver Aquarium. (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Virginia Marine Science Museum.(Virginia Beach, Virginia)

Waikiki Aquarium. (Honolulu, Hawaii)

World Aquarium. (St Louis, Missouri)

Waikiki Aquarium. (Honolulu, Hawaii)

See also other pages of aquarium listings here and here.

7) Professional associations and other information about public aquaria:

American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

World Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

International Council of Museums and its code of ethics for museums, zoos and aquaria.

Some colleges are now offering degree courses in aquarium management. Here is one example at George Mason University.

A Whale of a Business.
Hard-hitting frontline special about the realities of the marine mammal entertainment business. Includes some disturbing discriptions of humanity's cynical exploitation of other species. Don't get me wrong - I think public aquaria serve an important educational purpose, but I do think that all of us working in this field need to think very carefully about the ethics of mixing big business, edutainment and environmental advocacy.

8) Biological field stations:

IMPORTANT TIP: It is a great idea to make friends with people at field stations!

Collecting your own specimens in the field is a fantastic learning experience. Always use ecologically friendly collecting methods and make sure you comply with all state and local laws. Field station staff can usually help with information about collecting permits. These can take a long time obtain so make sure you talk to staff MONTHS in advance of your visit. Also, take full advantage of the field station staff's knowledge of local ecosystems or you may NEVER find what you are looking for! Obviously, Field stations are also great places for biology teachers at any level to take their students. Most field stations can put together a custom education package that suits your specific needs. The Organization of Biological Field Station's web site includes a page that links to most major American field stations.

9) Links related to K-12 ecology and ecosystem education:

A small page of resources and aquarium-based lesson plans for teachers. Brought to you by Tetra the aquarium supply company.

Click here to visit the Monkey Puzzle Ecology & Education Site
Be sure to check out monkey puzzle's technical document "mutualistic biodiversity" at this site. It gets to the biochemical heart of the reasons why ecosystem-based aquaria are so much better at everything than "fish tanks"!

Simple water quality information site with some k-12 learning resources. Maintained by Hach Inc., a company that specializes in water quality analysis. They manufacture a wide variety of water chemistry test kits.

Educational ecology site for children.

Wood's Hole Sea Education Association.
A field school offering classes to teachers and students at various levels. Also features some K-12 oceanography lesson plans.

US Environmental Protection Agency.
Teacher's resource page.

The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF).
Chartered by Congress in 1990, This is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing environmental education.

Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (California)
AEOE is dedicated to the education of children and to helping them increase their awareness and understanding of their natural environment. Primarily a portal with links to other resources.

DIY Science.
Web site featuring resources for teaching about closed ecosystems.

Educational REALMS Science lesson plan portal.
A page of science lesson plan links, maintained by the good people at Educational REALMS (formerly ERIC/CSMEE).

Educational REALMS (formerly ERIC/CSMEE) main page.

Might I also presume to suggest that you look at a couple of education related articles written by yours truly:

The "natural" aquarium as an Educational Tool. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Magazine. February (1996). Published by R/C Modeler magazines.

What are we supposed to see? Visual perception of small aquatic animals by non-science majors and biology graduate students; comparisons, correlations and implications. (2001) Annual International Conference of the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science. Costa Mesa, California.

"Visual Cognition In Undergraduate Biology Labs; Can It Be Connected To Conceptual Change And Other Learning Theories?" Robert Day (2003) Annual International Conference of the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science. (PDF) (2003) Annual International Conference of the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science. St Louis, MI.

Proposal: Construction of an artificial wetland ecosystem to be used as an exhibit and educational aid at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), Columbus, Ohio.(2003)(PDF)

10) Environmental Education Policy:

Links to relevant government legislation, surveys of public opinion and other issues of environmental policy.

Amendment of National Environmental Education Act. S.1946 / H.R.4745
Follow the link then type in the bill number (H.R.4747) in the site's search window. This bill has already been passed by the Senate and is in progress in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by Rep Castle, Michael N. [DE].

U.S Code Title 2O - Education.
Note that chapters 35 and 65 deal with environmental education.

Ohio Environmental Education Fund
House Bill 804. Passed into law by Governor Celeste in 1990

Public Agenda
The environment section of this site offers interesting statistics and graphics that show how Americans feel about environmental issues. Note especially the "red flag" section which describes the issues Americans are most concerned about.

11) Microscope links:

My approach to teaching biology involves the integration of aquaria, microscopes and image-capture technology. Most aquarium enthusiasts and K-12 teachers would love to have access to the kind of microscopes that academics have in their labs. Unfortunately professional research-grade microscopes cost many thousands of dollars. Luckily, there is no shortage of reasonably priced mid-quality microscopes and related gadgets for use by teachers, undergraduates and adult hobbyists. I list some of them below. On the other hand, although I've tried many types of microscopes in K-12 classrooms, I have to say that none of them are really perfect for this task. The optical quality on the cheaper plastic models is generally awful and the ability of young children to dissasemble and loose or break the parts from more expensive models has to be seen to be truly believed. Sad as it is, in the K-12 setting I am generally forced to use a combination of demonstrations, cheap plastic hand lenses and very small groups with close supervision on the microscope. The links to commercial pages here should not be considered endorsements since your needs are likely different to mine. However, I have tried nearly all of the models described here and I can say that all of them can be made to work, more or less as advertised. In terms of image quality, generally you get what you pay for.

My favorite teaching tool; the "scope on a rope" and the new "proscope", both available from
ScalarScopes. The proscope is particularly flexible and can be used as a web cam as well as a video microscope. This makes it easier to justify the price. Mid-quality scopes for adults or high school students. Mid-quality scopes for adults or high school students. Mid-quality scopes for adults or high school students. I used to recommend the Brock Magiscope (that you can find at this site) to elementary teachers because I thought it was indestructible and child proof. Boy was I wrong! Unsupervised small children go through this scope like a hot knife through butter, just like they do with every other 'scope I've tried.

Nikon field microscope. Mid-quality folding stereo scope for adults or high school students. Pricey but might be useful for some.

PocketScope Antony van Leeuwenhoek inspired compact, single lens microscope. Highly portable, literaly fits in your pocket. I tried it. Surprizingly nice images, Not bad at all for the price. Best for dry mounts because water tends to spill out of wet mounts when you insert them, although it can be done if you are careful.

Qx3 from intel. This thing gained quite a following for a while, mainly because of its fantasticly low price (about 50 bucks). Honestly, I've always thought the picture quality was pretty poor, although I suppose its ease of use and great value make up for that shortcoming. The Qx3 was discontinued and was unavailable for a while, but it appears that at least one company is now selling them (or something very similar). See digital blue. There may also be some cheap used ones floating around on ebay. Free driver for Mac OS X is here.

Great news: The Digital Blue QX3 is extremely user friendly, but its optical quality, frankly, is pretty awful. Digital Blue have recently upgraded the resolution and light source for their scope. The new model is called the QX5. At about 80 bucks, it's still offers reasonable value and now features 640x480 resolution and a faster frame rate. Budget scopes for children. Probably not very good optics on these cheap models. I haven't tried any of these, but I thought the "geoscope" looked cool just for its all-weather ability and low price. Supposedly it even works underwater. Anyone tried one? Let me know what you thought.

Children totally destroyed your microscope? Yup. they'll do that. Maybe you should stick to hand magnifiers for now.

LE-adapter. This handy little doo-dad lets you connect almost any optical instrument (such as a microscope) to a miniDV camcorder. Ideal for combining a cheap microscope with a camera so that you can project the image to a TV or computer for teaching or recording. The adapter connects straight to the microscope eyepiece - no other hardware is needed.... although it may require a bit of jiggling to get the image to look good.

Scopetronix.Another company that sells adapters for optical devices and digital cameras. Useful if you are trying to cobble together a decent video microscopy system out of a variety of unrelated equipment.

Microbus. An introductory resource for K-12 teachers. Features general microsopy information, imaging tips and product links.

Micscape A UK based microscope organization with many resources for teachers. Another microscope organization with many resources for K-12 teachers.

If any of the links on this page don't seem to work, please let me know.

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