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BIO 120: Adaptation and Biodiversity

This guide will assist BIO 120 students, as well as other biology students, when starting to look for and gather research for papers and assignments.

Natural History Websites

Try these websites for some basic natural history information:


Search your species name on Wikipedia. There might be an overview of the species' natural history and some background information to get you thinking. Some of the links cited in Wikipedia might even be useful in your research!

Note: Use wikipedia to find resources, but don't cite wikipedia itself! (See "Evaluating Web Pages" on the left).

What is natural history?

Abelharuco - Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
hidden valley (better big)

Images: jcoelho and La Lince, on Flickr

  • An explanation of the elements of the life and life style of a given species, such as diet, reproduction, and social grouping.
  • The scientific study of plants or animals (more observational than experimental) usually published in popular magazines rather than in academic journals

Using Journal Articles to Find Natural History Information

It is not the most obvious place to look, but you can find very reliable - and easily cited - natural history information in articles published in scientific journals. Search your species name and look at any of the articles that come up. Even if you are not interested in the topic that the article discusses (maybe you can not even understand it!), you should check the Introduction and Methods sections for information on your species.

Search the Catalogue


Encyclopedias are another great resource for finding natural history information. Check out these encyclopedias from the University of Toronto that are written and edited by experts in the field.

Using Books to find Natural History Information

Books are another great resource for Natural History information. Information found in books is reliable and complete; however, it may not be the most recent.


Textbooks are another great resource, for both natural history information and summaries of previous research. Textbooks are especially good for finding information on concepts you are going to include in your proposal.