Biodiversity Discussion Group

Welcome to the Biodiversity Discussion Group (BDG) at the Biodiversity Research Centre of the University of British Columbia!

Why & who: We meet to discuss recent research papers and topics in biodiversity from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Any interested undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, and faculty are welcome to suggest papers and join the discussion. See below for links to past terms' topics.

When & where: We're meeting Thursdays at 10:30 am in Beaty 224 (Ralf Yorque), unless otherwise noted

Notes for a great meeting

Ask questions, whether you fret they are silly or not, what you think is a 'dumb question' is probably a fundamental question that many are wondering about or should be. So speak up.

And on that 'speak up' note: Around minute 40 we'll try to switch things up this term and ask everyone who has talked to try not to talk for 10 minutes. We'll see how it goes, but if it takes you a while to psyche yourself up to speak then work on that before minute 40 and if you talk a lot, practice your lip-biting skills.

Bring an expert: Special guests, faculty we don't see enough of, experts in a topic are especially welcome. If you're running a discussion and think someone should be there, or just if you know someone who should be at a particular discussion, bring them!

Information on the BDG mailing list is below.

Twitter feed: (thanks to Andrew) Jump to tweets about BDG (#ubcbdg).

Fall 2014 Schedule



Readings, tasks etc.


Snack provider

11 Sept


(1) Think of topics for this semester's BDG.



18 Sept

No change in biodiversity?

(1) Read this paper: pdf

(2) Think about these questions here.



25 Sept

What makes a good discussion?

(1) What makes a good discussion to you? Think about good discussion moments that you remember - what made them good.

(2) Read this pdf about how to lead a discussion

(3) Think of papers of wide-ranging interest that you want to read this semester.



2 October

Invasion Ecology and Climate Range Shifts

(1) Read this paper: pdf

(2) Have a look at the discussion questions here

Norah and Jenn


9 October

Paradigms in Conservation Biology

(1) Read this short paper on Reconciling Conservation Paradigms

(2) Be aware of this paper, about zero economic growth. Just take a glance.

(3) Study Fig. 1 and Table 2 of this paper, about conservation approaches

(4) Think about these questions here



16 October

Traits-based approaches

(1) Read this paper: McGill et al 2006

(2) Think about these questions here

Diane and Joey


23 October

Genomics and Ecology

(1) Read Jones et al

(2) Think about these questions here


Mathew Bayly

30 October

An avent-gard look into plant-herbivore interactions.




6 November

McGill - Unifying theories of unifyint theories (in ecology)

Read Matthews and Whittaker



13 November

Physiology Ecology

1) Read these papers, not in full detail: Becklin et al, 2014; Somero, 2010

2) Think about these questions here

Chris M. and Katie


20 November Phenology

1) Read this paper Pau et al, 2011

2) Think about these questions here

Chris K.


27 November Food web complexity vs simplicity

1) Read this paper Berlow et al. 2009

2) Here is a news article, the online supplement, and short TED talk on the subject

3) Think about these questions here

Matt B.


4 December

Epigenetics and Ecology

1) Read this empirical paper by Herrera et al, 2012

2) Read this succinct review on Epigenetics for ecologists


Matt S.


11 December

Competition and its roll in biodiversity functioning






Other topics

Environmental variation in ecology, Paleoecology, restoration ecology, parasites,

2013-2014 academic year: biogeography of science and publication, women in science, overuse of p-values (point-counterpoint opportunity), researchers and public education, rewilding, parasites, replication, macroecology, physiological ecology, paleoecology, historical ecology, interacting with the media, phenology, what is ecology, niche modeling, functional redundancy, top wacko ideas in conservation

2012-2013 academic year: Marine and terrestrial ecology: unifying concepts, revealing differences, Setting the agenda for speciation research,
Ecosystomics: ecology by sequencer, Parasites and fungi and stuff, Niche modeling insanity, Paleo-climate change,
Resurrection ecology, Restoration ecology, What's wrong with eco-phylogenetics, Historical ecology, Scaling in time and space
Evolution and climate change, Evolutionary ecology and Back to the future: The return of the 1970s to ecology.

2013-2014 academic year: Ecological Stoichiometry, Physiological ecology, Invasiveness, How to interact with media, Biogeography of science and publications

Miscellaneous papers
That have come up during discussions:

Previous terms
Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013
, Spring 2014

Mailing List
Email may be sent to the list at
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Please e-mail Jenn Sunday if you have questions.

Biodiversity Research Centre
#112-2212 Main Mall
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada