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Science: Conservation

An overview of resources to get you started in studying or researching science topics.


“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

— Theodore Roosevelt, former United States president

We only have one Earth, which we share with countless animal and plant species.  These species, along with non-living matter, make up the ecosystem in which we live.  As part of an ecosystem, we all work together to ensure the survival of all species.  Every species is a part of a complex "web of life," meaning that we all depend upon each other for food, nutrients, and energy.  When a link in the chain of the web is eliminated (i.e. when a species becomes extinct), it creates a ripple effect in the web that impacts the well-being of all.

Search tips

1) Start with an overview for your topic.  For example, you can start with an encyclopedia such as Credo Reference or Gale Virtual Reference Library (see list of BPL resources below) to get a basic idea of what your topic is all about.

2) Once you have a general idea of what your topic is about, you can narrow your topic down by subcategory, such as "Wildlife Conservation" or "Habitation Conservation."

3) Search for more information on your topic, using journal article databases, government websites, organization websites etc.  A good place to start is the Science in Context database which includes reference resources, experiments, statistics, magazine and academic journal articles, news articles, maps, multimedia,and external websites.

Different types of information that you can look for include:

  • Overview -- General description or outline of a topic
  • Statistics -- Collection of quantitative data
  • Evidence -- A visible sign of a phenomenon ; something which demonstrates that a phenomenon or theory exists or is true
  • Guides -- "How-to" instructions or an outline of how to do something
  • News Articles -- Article from a newspaper or other news source; good source of current and local information and can be considered a primary source
  • Blogs -- Website on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences
  • Journal Articles -- Article from a magazine or academic journal
  • Multimedia -- Videos, photographs, or audio resources
  • Reports -- Official documents from the government or other institution that give information about a particular subject
  • Interviews -- Reporting of meetings at which information is obtained from a person

For more information on conducting research on a topic, see from Case Western Reserve University.


Online Conservation Resources

These links provide access to government and other reports, statistics,  and current developments for high school and college students as well as anyone interested in conservation and related fields.

BioMap of Massachusetts
Includes maps that show core habitats and critical areas for conservation in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
Includes information about fish and wildlife watching, habitat conservation in the Commonwealth as well as maps and data.

Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition
Includes information on how to conserve land in your community and a landowner information library.

Natural Resources Conservation Service - United States Department of Agriculture
Provides information on air quality, land use, soils, water management, wetlands, and more.
Includes research and development, technical reports, journal citations, databases, federal websites, and fact sheets.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- Endangered Species
Database of endangered animals and plants in the United States.

Mass Audubon
Contains information about Massachusetts conservation issues along with educational programs for adults and children.

Local Harvest
Directory of farmers' markets, family farms, U-Pick farms, and other locally-grown produce.

Boston Local Food
Includes a list of farmers markets, and restaurants, and retail establishments.  

Smart Growth -- United States Environmental Protection Agency
Site focuses on community growth.  Includes reports, webinars, podcasts, and news. 

The Trustees of Reservations
"The Trustees of Reservations preserve properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts."

U.S. Department of the Interior
"The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and supplies the energy to power our future."

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs -- Land Use & Conservation

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Provides information on several environmental issues, a glossary of terms, and links to other environmental sites.

The Nature Conservancy
Includes information on the "science of conservation."

Ocean Conservancy
Includes news, a blog, and results of research studies. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)
Includes information about endangered species, fisheries, wetlands, and waterfowl.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Provides access to research, discoveries, and news in biology.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Offers information on endangered species and critical habitats.                      

"Films, photographs and audio recordings of the world's species, prioritising those most at risk of extinction, and building them into comprehensive multimedia digital profiles."  Includes educational materials for teachers.

Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions

Includes information about land conservation and wetlands protection as well as a calendar of events to promot conservation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Resources at the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library provides access to indexes and full-text articles through the Electronic Resources page (  Many of these resources are available off-site to residents of Massachusetts.  Suggested databases are listed below: 

The catalog for the Boston Public Library is available at

Suggested subject headings:


For assistance with searching and locating items held by the Boston Public Library and other libraries in the Metro Boston Library Network, see