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Biology: Background/Reference Sources 

The purpose of gathering background information is to help you understand your topic in more depth, or perhaps think about a different view or a subtopic that you had not previously considered.

Reference Books | Electronic Reference Resources

Using reference sources in the library's Reference Collection can be very useful.

After looking at the titles that follow, you can use the reference collection to help you locate additional information on your topic in the circulating collection, or you can note the call number of a Reference book that is useful for your topic, for example The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (REF QL 750.3 .E53 2004). Drop the REF and use the initial letters and numbers as a guide to finding similar material that circulates. If you wanted to find circulating books similar to The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, you would go to the third floor and browse the QL 750 section.

Subject Specific Reference Books

General | Anatomy | Behavior | Biochemistry | Bioethics| Botany  Environment/Ecology | Evolution | Genetics | Histology | Medicine
Microbiology | Microscopy | Paleontology | Zoology


The Biologist's Handbook of Pronunciations
REF. QH 13 .J3
A guide to pronunciation of scientific names and terms.
Oxford Dictionary of Natural History
REF. QH 13 .O9
Dictionary of terms in the earth sciences, atmospheric science, genetics, cell structure and function, biochemistry, parasitology, etc.
Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms
REF. QH 83 .S89
"In these volumes, the systematic positions and affinities of all living organisms are presented in synoptic articles for all taxa down to the family level. This reference also provides Linnaean classifications and citations which serve as a guide to the specialized literature."
Dictionary of Biology
REF. QH 302.5 .D5 2000
Definitions of terms in biology and related fields, including biochemistry, molecular genetics, biotechnology, etc. Also includes entries on biologists who have made major contributions to the field.
Henderson's Dictionary of Biological Terms
REF. QH 302.5 .H65 1989
Definitions of biological terms.
Scientific Style and Format: the CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers
REF. T 11 .S386 2006
The style manual issued by the Council of Biology Editors.

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Anatomical Primer: an Embryological Explanation of Human Gross Anatomy
REF. QM 23.2 .L36

Gray's Anatomy
REF. QM 23.2 .G73 1985
The classic anatomy text. Also available online.

Colour Atlas of Human Anatomy
REF. QM 23.2 .M32 1977

Atlas of Human Anatomy
REF. QM 25 .N46 2010

Atlas of the Sensory Organs: Functional and Clinical Anatomy
REF. QM 501 .C75 2005 also Online for Millikin Users
Drawings, images, and descriptions of the human sensory organs. Includes lists of recommended reading.

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Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior
REF. QL 750.3 .E53 2004
300-7,000 word essays on topics surrounding animal behavior, drawn from multiple disciplines ("biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, veterinary medicine, literature, law, and religious studies.")
Oxford Companion to Animal Behavior
REF. QL 751 .O9
"A non-specialist introduction to the study of animal behavior."

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Facts on File Dictionary of Biochemistry
REF. QP 512 .F33 2003
Covers the terminology of "modern biochemistry, including basic organic and physical chemistry, classes of compound, basic cytology and histology, nutrition and metabolism and signaling, and natural-product chemistry.
Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
REF. QP 512 .O94 1997
Terminology related to biochemistry and molecular biology.

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Encyclopedia of Bioethics
REF. QH 332 .E52 1995
Lengthy articles about the ethical issues surrounding life and death, such as gene therapy, eugenics, the death penalty, cryonics, blood transfusion, informed consent, warfare, suicide, public policy, substance abuse, etc.
Genetic Engineering: Opposing Viewpoints
QH 442 .G446 2009
Presents a series of essays, previously published elsewhere, on opposite sides of the issues surrounding genetic engineering (such as genetically engineered food, biotechnology, patents, genetic screening, etc.)

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Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary
REF. QK 9 .H37 2001
Illustrated definitions of the terms used to identify plant life.
Cambridge Illustrated Glossary of Botanical Terms
REF. QK 10 .H53 2000
An illustrated glossary of "2400 terms commonly used to describe vascular plants."
The Plant-Book
REF. QK 11 .M29 1997
"A portable dictionary of the vascular plants."
REF. QK 45.2 .P57 2005
This illustrated encyclopedia covers the evolution of plants, conservation of plants, native habitats, invasive plants, the plant kingdom from trees and shurbs through carnivorous plants, maps, addresses of botanical gardens, conservation organizations, and horticultural societies around the world, and a glossary.
Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach
REF. QK 95 .P548 1999
Phylogenetic classification of plant species.
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs
REF. QK 99 .U6 F68 1999
A field guide to the medicinal plants and herbs of the Eastern and Central United States.
North American Wild Flowers 5 vols.
REF. QK 112 W3
Descriptions and full color plates of North American wildflowers.
Wild flowers of the United States
REF. QK 115 .R5
Includes color photographs. Each volume covers a different region: Vol. 1- Northeastern States, Vol. 2- Southeastern States, Vol. 3- Texas, Vol. 4- Southwestern States, Vol. 5- Northwestern States, Vol. 6- Central Mountains and the Plains.
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-Central North America
REF. QK 118 .P5 or QK 118 .P5
A field guide to the wildflowers of Northeastern and North-Central North America.
Atlas of the Flora of the Great Plains
REF. QK 141 .G7 1977
"This atlas provides distributional information for the vascular plants growing in the Great Plains of North America."
Trees of the World
REF. QK 475.6 .L32
A guide to topics surrounding tree species.
Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs
REF. QK 482 .P43 1972 or QK 482 .P43 1972
"Field marks of all trees, shrubs, and woody vines that grow wild in the northeastern and north-central United States and in south-eastern and south-central Canada."
Field Guide to the Ferns and Their Related Families
REF. QK 525 .C75 or QK 525 .C75
Covers "Northeastern and Central North America with a section on species also found in the British Isles and Western Europe."
Mosses and Other Bryophytes: An Illustrated Glossary
REF. QK 537 .M35 2000
A glossary of terms, illustrated by photographs and microscope views.

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Encyclopedia of Endangered Species
REF. QH 75 .E49 1994 and REF. QH 75 .E49 1999
Descriptions and biology of endangered species, along with information on their habitat, history, and conservation measures.
World Wildlife Fund Guide to Extinct Species of Modern Times
REF. QH 75 .W675 1997
Descriptions of species that have become extinct since the beginning of European exploration in the 17th century. Includes information on their behavior, habitat, distribution, and causes of extinction.
Habitats and Ecosystems: An Encyclopedia of Endangered America
REF. QH 76 .C73 1999
Organized by state, "reviews the history of conservation in the United States, identifies current issues and challenges, summarizes the larger ecoregions in each state, and describes parks, sanctuaries, and preserves that shelter special habitats and ecosystems."
Dictionary of the Environment
REF. QH 540.4 .A44 1989
Definitions of environmental terms, including relevant agencies and organizations and environmental disasters.
Encyclopedia of Environmental Studies
REF. QH 540.4 .A84 1991
"Definitions of scientific terms from chemistry, biology, ecology, geology, and physics that are commonly encountered in environmental literature."
Dictionary of Ecology and Environment
REF. QH 540.4 .C65 2001
"Basic vocabulary used in studies relating to ecology and the environment. Pollution, climatology, farming practice, waste disposal and many other topics are all covered."
Encyclopedia of Environmental Science
REF. QH 540.4 .M66 2000
Good for short biographies of important persons in the environmental movement. Coverage of topics related to "agriculture, crop production, and pest control; atmosphere and air pollution; deserts, forests, grasslands, and other biomes; ecology and ecosystems; endangered and threatened plant and wildlife species; energy and mineral resources; environmental laws, regulations, and ethics; oceans; nonhazardous and hazardous wastes; water resources and water pollution; wetlands."
REF. QH 541.15 .B56 B435 1998
Includes and overview of the topic of biodiversity, along with a chronology of events, biographical sketches, tables, drawings, documents, organizational sketches, a glossary, and a bibliography of further material on the subject.

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Encyclopedia of Evolution
REF. QH 360.2 .E54 2002
"Presents articles on fundamental concepts, definitions, and theories of evolution, evolutionary and population genetics, molecular evolution, bioinformatics and genomics, systematics and taxonomy, behavioral ecology and social evolution, cell and developmental biology, human cultural and biological evolution, paleontology, mathematical modeling, and evolutionary basis of disease."
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Available online.

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Dictionary of Genetics
REF. QH 427 .K55 2002
Definitions of terms commonly used in the professional literature of genetics. Includes diagrams and tables.
Genetic Engineering: Opposing Viewpoints
QH 442 .G446 2009
Presents a series of essays, previously published elsewhere, on opposite sides of the issues surrounding genetic engineering (such as genetically engineered food, biotechnology, patents, genetic screening, etc.)
Molecular Biology and Biotechnology: A Comprehensive Desk Reference
REF. QH 506 .M66155 1995
"A comprehensive desk reference of the following: 1) life processes at a molecular level; 2) genetic disease diagnosis and genetic therapy; 3) the theory and techniques for understanding, manipulating, and synthesizing biological molecules and their aggregates; and 4) the application of biological processes to make of modify products to improve plants or animals or to develop microorganisms for specific uses."
Mendelian Inheritance in Man

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Atlas of Human Histology
REF. QM 557 .F55 1974
An illustrated guide to histology.

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Illustrated Glossary of Protoctista
REF. QR 74.5 .I44 1993
"Vocabulary of the algae, apicomplexa, ciliates, foraminifera, microspora, water molds, slime molds, and the other protoctists.
Illustrated Dictionary of Immunology
REF. QR 180.4 .C78 2003
Terminology related to immunology.

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Color Atlas and Manual of Microscopy for Criminalists, Chemists, and Conservators
REF. QH 205.2 .P486 2004

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Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs
REF. QE 862 .D5 C862 1997
"275 separate articles on the whole range of dinosaur study."

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Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia(17 vols.)
REF. QL 7 .G7813 2004
Vol. 1- Lower metazoans and lesser deuterosomes, Vol. 2- Protostomes, Vol. 3- Insects, Vol. 4-5- Fishes, Vol. 6- Amphibians, Vol. 7- Reptiles, Vol. 8-11- Birds, Vol. 12-16- Mammals, Vol. 17- Cumulative index. Each volume covers evolution and systematics, ecology, reproduction, development, and life history, symbiosis, behavior, and conservation of organisms. Many phyla, classes, family, and species are covered in detail.
Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity
REF. QL 473 .M34 2006
Includes a photographic guide to insects in eastern North America.
American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
REF. QL474 .A76
Lists and describes insect species found in North America north of Mexico. Includes bibliographic references.
Butterflies of the World
REF. QL 542 .S3613 1998
Illustrated guide to butterfly species.
Fishes of the World
REF. QL 618 .N4 1994
"A modern systematic treatment of all major fish groups." Includes line drawings and bibliographic references.
Fishes of Illinois
REF. QL 628 .I3 S5 or QL 628 .I3 S5 
Black and white drawings of Illinois fishes along with descriptions, ecology, and distribution information.
Handbook of the Birds of the World
REF. QL 673 .H25
Vol. 1- Ostrich to Ducks, Vol. 2- New World Vultures to Guineafowl, Vol. 3- Hoatzin to Auks, Vol. 4- Sandgrouse to Cuckoos, Vol. 5- Barn Owls to Hummingbirds, Vol.6- Mousebirds to Hornbills, Vol. 7- Jacamars to Woodpeckers, Vol.8- Broadbills to Tapaculos, Vol. 9- Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails, Vol. 10- Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes, Vol. 11-Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Vol. 12-Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Vol. 13-Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Vol. 14-Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Systematics, morphology, habitat, behavior, and conservation information. Includes drawings, photographs, and maps.
Audubon VideoGuide to 505 Birds of North America on Two DVDs
A-V QL 681 .A93 2004
"The VideoGuide provides a voice or other sound from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology for each species that makes a sound of any consequence. The bird calls are combined with striking, close-up moving footage and informative still photographs showing the birds in their natural habitats. A narrated description provides detailed identification information and computer-drawn maps clearly communicate breeding and wintering ranges." (from catalog description)
Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior
REF. QL 681 .S495 2001
A introductory guide to ornithology and a guide to the biology of bird families found in North America.
Sibley Guide to Birds
REF. QL 681 .S497 2000
An illustrated guide to North American birds.
Walker's Mammals of the World
REF. QL 703 .W22 1991
A guide to the genera of mammals with black and white photographs.
Mammals of the World: A Checklist
REF. QL 708 .D84 2004
"Gives the English and scientific names of every extant mammal species in the world. Mammal species which are known only from fossil or subfossil remains...as well as mammals which certainly became extinct before 1800, are not included in the list."
Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level
REF. QL 708 .M38 1997
A taxonomy of mammals.
Mammals of North America
REF. QL 715 .H15 1981
Summarizes "the results of taxonomic studies of North American native mammals of the post-Columbian period (1492 through June 1977)." Includes line drawings and distribution maps.
Encyclopedic Reference of Parasitology: Biology, Structure, Function
REF. QL 757 .E64 2001
"A comprehensive review of the facts and trends in veterinarian and human parasitology."

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Ask a librarian at the Research Assistance Desk
if you need help in locating these sources.

Electronic Reference Sources

Atlas of the Sensory Organs: Functional and Clinical Anatomy
Online for Millikin Users
Drawings, images, and descriptions of the human sensory organs. Includes lists of recommended reading.
Bookshelf (U.S. National Library of Medicine) 
Free access to over 700 texts in life science and medicine.
Gray's Anatomy
This edition of Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body" features 1,247 engravings, many in color, from the 1918 publication as well as a subject index with 13,000 entries.
Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man
A "comprehensive, authoritative, and timely compendium of human genes and genetic phenotypes."
Peterson's College Guides
Online versions of the printed guides. Guides to undergraduate, graduate and vocational-technical schools. Searchable by name or location.

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL