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NSF News Tips, April 10, 2001 In this weeks issue of NSF News Tips: "Dive and Discover" Website

Puts Classrooms On Frontier Of Ocean Exploration NSF: Students Vital To Future Workforce Hotspots No Panacea For Endangered Species Or Biodiversity April 10, 2001 For more information on these science news and feature story tips, please contact the public information officer at the end of each item at (703) 292-8070. Editor: Bill Noxon "Dive and Discover" Website Puts Classrooms on Frontier of Ocean Exploration A website launched March 27 by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will take users on a vicarious expedition into ocean science. By following the activities of a scientific mission to the Indian Ocean to look for hydrothermal vents, students and teachers in 22 states and Guam will be among the first to know of scientists' discoveries at the seafloor in one of Earth's most remote regions. Scientist Cindy Van Dover of the College of William and Mary is the expedition's chief scientist. The site provides an inside look at the sights, sounds and action of scientific research--in near-real-time--with daily updates, slides and videos, and through e-mail correspondence with shipboard scientists. The website includes interactive teaching aids on subjects such as hydrothermal vent biology, vent chemistry, earth history, plate tectonics and the history of oceanography. "The site gives teachers a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate scientific concepts in the classroom," said Woods Hole geologist Dan Fornari. "It provides an exciting daily window through which students can see science in action during one of oceanography's most exciting periods." WHOI geologist Susan Humphris explained: "This expedition could answer many questions we have about the differences in vent communities in the world's oceans, and has the potential to result in many discoveries." [Cheryl Dybas] For more information, see: NSF: STUDENTS VITAL TO FUTURE WORKFORCE Integrating research and education is vital to the future science and engineering workforce in the United States, NSF's Tom Weber told almost 300 graduates and undergraduates at the 15th National Conference of Black Physics Students at Stanford University Mar. 29-Apr. 1. The annual meeting, held in conjunction with the National Conference of Black Physicists and co-sponsored by NSF, encourages the students to pursue physics careers by providing career advice, networking opportunities and tours of national physics laboratories. This year, the students toured the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. "NSF is as much about preparing a world-class workforce as it

is about discovery," said Weber, director of NSF's materials research division. "We continually break new ground through the research and education we support, but we need people to turn the new knowledge into innovation." [Amber Jones] HOTSPOTS NO PANACEA FOR ENDANGERED SPECIES OR BIODIVERSITY Protecting endangered species hotspots is touted as a simple, efficient way of conserving many at-risk plants and animals. But this approach may not be enough to protect endangered species. Today's hotspots may not be tomorrow's hotspots, according to research funded in part by NSF and published in the April issue of Conservation Biology. Researchers at Michigan State University assessed the distribution of U.S.-listed threatened and endangered species by county covering three overlapping time periods--1967-79, 1967-89 and 1967-99--and ranked the hotspots according to the number of unique listed species. The scientists, Daniel Rutledge, Christopher Lepczyk, Jianguo Liu and Jialong Xie, found that the number, location and importance of hotspots varied considerably through the years. The overall number of listed species increased from 227 to 1,078. To protect all the listed species, 84 hotspots were required in 1979. By 1999, that number had risen to 217. Many counties were added to or removed from the list, and only 63 counties were hotspots during all three time periods. The relative importance of the counties also varied. Highlands County, Fla., for example, did not appear on the list in 1989 but ranked second in number of species in 1999. Hancock County, Tenn., ranked fifth place in 1989, but did not appear in 1999. "Biodiversity hotspots could change because knowledge about biodiversity and threats to biodiversity also change over time and across space," said Liu. However, the researchers stress that protecting hotspots is still important. "Any efforts to protect species and their habitats are a good thing," says Rutledge. "Hotspots serve as a useful tool to guiding conservation efforts, but don't represent a final solution." [Cheryl Dybas] -NSF-