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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Animal Info - Information on Endangered Mammals

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.3 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 09, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview:

This website serves as an incredibly comprehensive, user friendly database for
endangered mammals. The heart of the site is the detailed information provided on each species. The information starts with a general profile of the organisms (many with images provided) and a few ?Tidbits? of information unique to the species or having an historical aspect. It then covers the status of the species in detail including where it is found, population estimates, the history of this distribution, and why the population is declining. Next is detailed data on the biology and ecology of the species followed by references. This section also makes clear that we simply don?t know much about many of the species. The value the site adds to this database is providing multiple pathways the access this information: Individual species index, a species group (e.g., lemurs, mice and rats, etc) index, a country index, plus links to other sites, organizations, and publications. Of particular use as a ?quick look? is the Worlds Rarest Mammals List. Finally the entire site is searchable and can be displayed in six other languages besides English.

Learning Goals:

None specifically listed. There are no learning goals; it is strictly a database. The intent of the site is to make resources concerning endangered mammals available to those needing them as easily as possible.

Target Student Population:

This website does not target a specific student population. Due to the format of information presentation, it would be too difficult for elementary students but
could be useful for middle school through graduate school.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

The site is designed to be accessible to a wide range of users. Use of web browser will be required.

Type of Material:

This site is a collection/data base.

Recommended Uses:

The site contains a very wide range of information suitable for many purposes. It would be great for conducting research on endangered mammals. Students could be assigned an endangered animal to research by type (elephants, cats), ndangered animals by country, or specific species. For advanced students, this website provides many links to current research, references, and resources which may be helpful in conducting background literature reviews. One of the strengths of the site is to allow users to find the information they need from a variety of pathways. The site also clearly identifies how little is actually known about many mammals?to say nothing about smaller organisms.

Technical Requirements:

Basic site requires only current internet browser.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:

  • An up-to-date overview on the status of endangered mammals.
  • Information is well organized, accessible, and easy to navigate.
  • Links to primary sources are excellent and allow user to track both the source and progress of research on a mammal.
  • A good source to point out how little is known about the larger organisms in our environment and, by extension, the millions of species of invertebrates, protists, and bacteria.

Concerns:

  • An index by biome or ecoregions would be very helpful for users of this database.
  • Although data appears current, a short discussion on how the data is collected and updates located would greatly help user.
  • Would like to see links to sites on other types of endangered organisms?plants, insects, reptiles, etc.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths:

  • Site has excellent potential for assignments. The large numbers of species in the dtatabase and the organization of the data facilitates.
  • The consistancy of data between animals makes this site accessable for younger students (middle school). Perhaps a comparative study assignment could be
    developed.
  • The pictures included for each animal may useful in capturing the attention of students.
  • Each page ends with a list of other sources of information.
  • Site has excellent potential for assignments?organisms, conservation methods, and geopolitical issues.

Concerns:

  • As a database, this site does not easily lend itself as a teaching tool. It is far more useful as a resource.
  • Specific assignments may be needed to focus younger students as the amount of material can be overwhelming.
  • User needs to make connections (relationships) between different elements of the data base?the site does not provide that directly.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:

  • Incredibly well organized for the amount of information contained in the
    database.
  • Provides multiple pathways to access data.
  • Every species has references to related issues.
  • Most links checked were active.
  • Site is available in six languages besides english.

Concerns:

  • There is no ?help? page or frequently asked questions section. A more extensive set of instructions on the various ways to access data would be helpful for those new to internet databases.
  • There are some inactive links?probably unavoidable for a site of this extent.
  • A map based search interface would complement the site.
  • There are links to a glossary for most words that users may not know. It would be helpful to have a discussion about and link to the glossary on the home page so users would know about it. Some users may want to find a word without having to find the sentence where it is used on one of the site pages.


Other Issues and Comments:

A tremendous resource for information pertaining to endangered mammals. If you
are in need of any information on an endangered mammal, this should be your
first stop on the web.