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.

Every other week this semester we're trying a new theme, where we'll discuss a paper from one of science's highest impact journals (eg Science, Nature). These BDGs will focus not only on the research itself, but on how it made it into this tier of journal - from topic to spin to figure presentation.

When & where: We're meeting Wednesdays at 10 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 the 40/45 minute mark we'll try to open the floor specifically to people who haven't said anything so far - 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 tongue-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!

Tips for running a great discussion: Take a look at these tips, compiled specifically for BDG - they contain several possible ways to structure the hour so that everyone gets the most out of it.

Information on the BDG mailing list is below.

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

Fall 2015 Schedule



Readings, tasks etc.


Snack provider

Sept 9


Think of topics and papers for this semester's BDG.



Sept 16


Read this paper by this weeks' Biodiversity Seminar speaker: Prior et al. 2015



Sep 23

Sci in Sci: Contracting ranges of bumblebees

Read this Science paper: Kerr et al. 2015



Sep 30

Citizen science: tool for research and engagement, with special guest appearance by this weeks' Biodiversity speaker Wesley Hochachka

Read Dickinson et al 2012 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment



Oct 7

Grad school: strategies for productivity & success

1st: Skim these blogs, which give a point/counterpoint debate on general grad school advice, and should be read together:

2nd: Read whichever of the following blogs on productive work habits takes your fancy:

As you read, jot down points you think are really useful, those that you object to, and we'll use these as a basis of our discussion.



Oct 14

Science in Science: Biomass scaling in predator prey relationships

Read: the article Hatton etal. 2015. Science

the summary in Science

and the press release by the Wildlife Society



Oct 21

Space-time substitutions in climate change research PNAS double header! These article offer contrasting perspectives. Read both abstracts and either full article:

Blois etal. 2013 PNAS

Elmendorf etal. 2015 PNAS



Oct 28

Science in Science: endemism evolution on a tropical mountain Read: Vincent etal. 2015 Nature Joanne


Nov 4

Means vs extremes in climate change

Read this paper 2014 ProcRoySoc

by Vasseur etal., including the BRC's very own Chris Harley and Mary O'Connor



Nov 11



Nov 18

Latitudinal gradients in biotic interactions

Read: Adams & Zhang 2009 JEcol Deirdre Phillipe
Nov 25 Science in Science: are parasites the missing links in food webs? Read: Lafferty et al. 2006 PNAS



Dec 2 Adaptive introgression: will it help species respond to climate change? Read: Hamilton&Miller 2015 Conservation Biol Manny Matt
Dec 9

organize for next semester / party (snacks = everyone!)

  Matt & Katie Everyone

Other topics

2014-2015 academic year: individuals models, 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, Fall 2014, Spring 2015.

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 Anna Hargreaves if you have questions.

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