Biodiversity Discussion Group

Fall 2012

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.

When & where: We'll be meeting Thursdays at 10:00am. Meeting in Beaty 224 (Ralf Yorque), unless otherwise noted (date and time for this fall was decided via this poll).

Information on the BDG mailing list is below.

Fall 2012 Schedule (as it happened)



Readings, tasks etc.


Snack provider

1 (Thu, Sep 20)

How to pitch a paper

(1) Read: Finding the "pitch" in ecological writing (pdf)

(2) Bring in a paper you think is well-pitched, or read this (link)

Isla Myers-Smith

Anne Bjorkman

2 (Sep 25)

An idiosyncratic view of the history of ecology at UBC

Note room change: Wallace (304) -- arrive early to get a seat!

Charley Krebs


3 (Oct 2)


Read: Numbering the hairs on our heads: The shared challenge and promise of phenomics (pdf)

Thor Veen

Isla Myers-Smith

4 (Oct 9)

Invasions and ecosystem functioning

Read: Eight questions about invasions and ecosystem functioning (pdf)


Andrew MacDonald

5 (Oct 16)

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Hooper and hoopla!

Read: A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change (link, pdf).
Update! See additional papers mentioned in the discussion below.

Anne Bjorkman


6 (Oct 23)

Viva la variance!

Read the short triology: 'The return of the variance,' next 'Mean strikes back' and finally Reurn of the Jedi, no, wait, I mean, 'Viva la variance!' (zipped packet), then read this.

Andrew MacDonald


7 (Oct 30)

Pollination, extinction models and the New York garment industry

Read: Strong contributors to network persistence are the most vulnerable to extinction (pdf). You can also check out the Supp (here) and more info on how they calculated nestedness (here).



8 (Nov 6)

Sexual selection, ecology and adaptive radiation

Read: Ecological opportunity and sexual selection together predict adaptive radiation (main text, supp).



9 (Nov 13)

Functional traits, magic traits etc.

Read: Ecological interactions drive evolutionary loss of traits (main text)



10 (Nov 20)

How long should I run my experiment? A case study from biodiversity research on long-term studies

Read: Impacts of biodiversity loss escalate through time as redundancy fades (main text, supp, then read this).



11 (Thu, Nov 29)

Women, men and academic jungles in the sciences

Read: The academic jungle: ecosystem modelling reveals why women are driven out of research (main text)

Diane Srivastava


Coming soon!

Tipping points


Judy Myers


Coming soon!

The return of individuals -- inter vs. intraspecific haydays

Greg Crutsinger

Coming soon!

The 'peerage of science'

Lizzie Wolkovich

Coming soon!

Return to common gardens

Florence Débarre

Coming soon, winter 2013

Point-counterpoint on open science

Mary O'Connor & Chris Harley


Other topics
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

Miscellaneous papers
That have come up during discussions: Why Are My Brilliant Research Findings Not Utilized in Ecology Textbooks? (pdf)

From the Hooper et al. discussion (16 October 2012):
- Realistic species of rare species disproportionately impact higher trophic levels (link)

- Impacts of biodiversity loss escalate through time as redundancy fades (link
- All is not lost: Plant biodiversity in the Anthropocene (link
- F1000 reviews of Hooper et al. (link)

From the Violle et al. discussion (23 October 2012):
- Ecological consequences of genetic diversity (link)

- Jim Clark's work: Lab website (link

Mailing List
Email may be sent to the list at
To sign up for the mailing list send an e-mail with "subscribe" in the subject to
To remove yourself from the mailing list send a message with "unsubcribe" in the subject to

Please e-mail Lizzie Wolkovich (pester her first) or Thor Veen if you have questions.

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