Evolutionary Biology Online Journal Club

EvoBio E-Journal Club – it’s alive!!


Hello world!

So, as Morgan explained in a recent post to his blog, the idea of an online evolutionary biology journal club started with the realization of a shared interest in discussing current / conceptual topics in evolutionary biology, coupled with a slight frustration of not being able to do so at our home institutions – because they are small, there isn’t enough interest around, and/or because we simply can’t get enough of it. I think the idea is awesome and the timing is perfect.

I created this blog to work as a hub and facilitate our organization. (EDIT: just to clarify, as Morgan’s post details, we will meet online using Google+ Hangouts to discuss the papers). Depending on how things work out, we can even expand it and use it to post aspects of our Journal Club discussions that may be of a broader interest to those that couldn’t / didn’t want to join the meeting discussion.

But first things first!

The absolute first thing we need to figure out is when to meet. I like the suggestion of having it during the week – perhaps in the late evening? This way we can relax from a long day’s work by reading and discussing some science! 😀

OK, let’s herd some cats! I’m guessing meeting every other week is something we can aim for conservatively. I created a NeedToMeet calendar to try and schedule (times are in EST/EDT). You don’t need to be invited or even register to the site in order to mark down your availability – so this should be pretty inviting to everyone!

The second thing we need to figure out as soon as we can is what to discuss. What paper should we read in the first and following meetings? So here’s the idea I came up with: Everyone interested in joining the Online Journal Club should post to the comments (after marking in the calendar your availability) a brief introduction that includes the following information:

– your general interests / expectations for this journal club;
– a couple reading suggestions for the club. Make sure to include:

  • author, year, title & where it was published
  • the length in pages of the paper (as this might influence someone’s interest in reading it for a discussion group, or for next week)
  • a link to the paper, if possible.

(EDIT: if you feel like joining the journal club discussion but don’t want to suggest readings at this point, feel free to just say “hi” in the comment section!)

Based on this we can later this week have a poll to decide our first reading, and possibly our sequence of readings! This way we can see what interests most of the group. What do you think?

So mine would look something like this:

Hi everyone! My name is Rafael Maia and I am a PhD candidate at the University of Akron. My interests include sexual selection, macroevolution, and speciation. I’d like to suggest the following readings:

  1. Olsson 2012. The developmental renaissance in adaptationism. TREE (9 pages; link)
  2. Hall & Kerney 2011. Levels of Biological Organization and the Origin of Novelty. J Exp Zool (9 pages, link)

Just a reminder, this is an absolutely collaborative thing we’re attempting to start. As people start to join in and this journal club starts fleshing out, I will start adding participants to this blog so we can all help it grow together. And if any thing I proposed above sounds bad, just let us know in the comments below so we can make it better! 🙂

Does that sound good? Let’s get this thing rolling! 🙂


Author: Rafael Maia

Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Idaho, studying the development and evolution of iridescent colors in birds.

49 thoughts on “EvoBio E-Journal Club – it’s alive!!

  1. Hi everyone! My name is Thomas Hossie and I am a PhD candidate at the Carleton University in Ottawa, ON. I’m primarily interested in predator-prey interactions and evolutionary ecology. More broadly, I am interested in adaptive evolution, behavioural ecology, phenotypic plasticity, and macroevolution.

    I suggest the following readings:

    Cook et al. (2012) Selective bird predation on the peppered moth: the last experiment of Michael Majerus. Biology Letters: 8, 609-612 http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/01/27/rsbl.2011.1136.short

    Forister et al. (2011) Ant association facilitates the evolution of diet breadth in a lycaenid butterfly. Proc Roy Soc B 278, 1539-1547 http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/278/1711/1539.full

  2. Hey, I’m Morgan Jackson and hopefully next week (long story) I’ll be a PhD student at the University of Guelph (in Ontario, Canada). I study insect taxonomy, biodiversity, systematics and natural history, but am interested in most aspects of evolutionary biology if it can help me understand where all these species came from! I also have a growing interest in mimicry and parasitism complexes.

    While I’d love to discuss descriptive taxonomy and new phylogenies, I don’t think they’d be much fun in this context, so here are 4 papers I thought would be interesting to discuss.

    Higginson et al 2012. Female reproductive tract form drives the evolution of complex sperm morphology. (6 pages, LINK)

    Hugall & Fox 2012. Accelerated speciation in colour-polymorphic birds. (5 pages, LINK)

    Egri et al. 2012. Polarotactic tabanids find striped patterns with brightness and/or polarization modulation least attractive: an advantage of zebra stripes. (10 pages, LINK)

    Siemers et al 2012. Bats eavesdrop on the sound of copulating flies. (2 pages, LINK)

    As for times, I can make myself available at pretty well any time, but I think we should try and nail down a set time instead of a flexible time. Evening works well for North America and Australia, but blocks out most of Europe. Maybe mid-afternoon would allow the largest number of people from the most number of places to participate (but again, I’m open for whatever works best for the majority).

  3. Hi all,

    My name is David Winter, I’m a post-doc-hunting, soft-money living research-guy at University of Otago in New Zeland. I’m pretty much interested in All The Biology, but in particular speciation, and systematics (which as Morgan points out, are sort of related to each other) but I’ve got interests and opinions on most topics 🙂

    Since there are already a stack of suggestions here I guess I’ll pick a couple that caught my eye –

    Olsson 2012. The developmental renaissance in adaptationism. TREE (9 pages; link)


    Hugall & Fox 2012. Accelerated speciation in colour-polymorphic birds

    both sound interesting to me.

  4. Hello! I’m Marina Cheng and i’m a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. I currently study systematics and taxonomy of the Heteroptera, particularly plant bugs, and i’m interested in biogeography, host associations and the evolution of male genitalia (not so fond of dissecting the little buggers though). I actually don’t have any readings to suggest at the moment, so this is more of the “Hi!” type of comment.

    Although, Morgan, i’d totally enjoy discussing descriptive taxonomy and phylogenies!

    Timewise, i’ll fit in with the majority.

  5. Hi all! My name is Eduardo Santos and I am a Behavioural Ecologist/Evol Biologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. I’m interested in the evolution of parental care and mating systems, and sexual selection. And I find myself more and more attracted to macroevolution lately! No paper suggestions for now, as I am in the middle of a battle to move overseas in the coming weeks.

  6. Hi! I’m Ása Johannesen, though I usually go by Freya. I’m a behavioural ecologist with an interest in evolutionary biology studying for my PhD at the University of Leeds in England. My work is mainly (all) fish behaviour, predator-prey interaction and foraging behaviour. Don’t have any suggestions for papers, but I like all of the suggestions so far, so I’m sure I’ll be happy which whichever is decided on 🙂 I hope to join you at the first meeting, but the times I’ve given may be compromised by unexpected things happening.

  7. My name is Sam Evans, and, like Morgan, I too am in the midst of an arduous and complicated odyssey through the land of Postgradua. BS at Miami University, MS at University of Akron, brief lab tech stint at Rice University, and now unemployed and finishing my MS thesis. I expect to begin my doctorate somewhere by August 2013. Whee.

    I am interested in anything and everything to do with evolutionary theory, but have particular experience with the ecology, behavior, and taxonomy of arthropods (especially spiders), as well as a decent stats background. That being said, I will pontificate on anything, but here are a couple of topics that I’d be interested in exploring with others:

    Blondel 2003. Guilds or functional groups: does it matter? Oikos 100: 223-231.

    Duckworth 2009. The role of behavior in evolution: a search for mechanism. Evol Ecol 23: 513-531.

    I was concerned about the time zone issue as well, though right now it looks as if everyone is in the same time zone. Mid-afternoons work for me for the foreseeable future. Weekdays are fine, though I would urge consideration of Sundays as well, for a number of reasons. One, this avoids the pop-up commitments most of us (excluding my jobless deadbeat self) will have to contend with during the week. Two, it can serve as an intellectual warm-up for the work week ahead. Three, it keeps me from being wholly unproductive that day by tearing me away from my football addiction. Just a thought…

  8. Hi – my name is Michelle Lawrence and I am a Master Naturalist (what is that you ask? well here you go: http://masternaturalist.umd.edu ) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the US. I recently completed my second BS, this time in Biology and am looking to go on for my MS in Estuarine Ecology and I am particularly fascinated by all things evolutionary. I am fairly flexible as to time and subject and looking forward to discussing our first paper. However, I will leave, at least at first, the suggestions of specific papers to others who still have university access. Thanks for getting this going – looking forward to it.

  9. My name is Devin Drown and I’m a Postdoc at Indiana University. My research focuses on understanding coevolutionary interactions, particularly host-parasite interactions. I use a combination of mathematical modeling and molecular analysis in both field and laboratory settings to address how species interactions influence life history trait evolution. I’d suggest the following papers:

    Immler, S., G. Arnqvist, and S. P. Otto. 2012. Ploidally Antagonistic Selection Maintains Stable Genetic Polymorphism. Evolution 66:55-65. (11 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01399.x)

    Luijckx P., H Fienberg, D. Duneau and D. Ebert. 2012. Resistance to a bacterial parasite in the crustacean Daphnia magna shows Mendelian segregation with dominance. Heredity 108: 547-551. (5 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2011.122)

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  11. Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca and I am a second-year PhD student in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) at Columbia University. I did my B.S. in Zoology at Miami University, studying the elusive prairie vole. Currently, I am studying early life experience and stress as it relates to cooperative breeding behavior and stress physiology in a cooperatively breeding bird. I like reading anything about behavioral ecology in general, but I specifically love mating systems, reproductive skew, and genetic and hormonal influences on behavior.

  12. Hi! I’m Lee! I am a first year PhD student in vertebrate paleontology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. I am interested in the origins and early diversification of snakes, especially weird, basal ones. I like development, morphometrics and systematics, especially when those are integrated to address awesome questions.

    I’ll think of papers later.

  13. What a great idea!! Hi everyone, my name is Jess Vickruck and I’m a third year PhD student at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. I am generally interested in behavioural ecology, mechanisms underlying the evolution and maintenance of social groups, reproductive skew, behavioural genetics (the list goes on….) I have posted a couple of paper suggestions below but would be happy to discuss just about anything evolution related!

    Nonacs, P. 2011 Kinship, greenbeards, and runaway social selection in
    the evolution of social insect cooperation. PNAS 108: 10808–10815. (8 pages http://www.pnas.org/content/108/suppl.2/10808.full )

    Lucas, R.R., Martins, R.P. and Field, J. 2011. Reproductive skew is highly variable and
    correlated with genetic relatedness in a social apoid wasp. Behavioral Ecology 22: 337-344. (8 pages http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/22/2/337.short )

  14. I’ll play too. 🙂 Hi, everyone, I’m Steven Hamblin, and I’m an aloco…^H^H^H^H^H a postdoc at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. My current interests include behavioural ecology (focusing on foraging, learning, and information use), virology, general evolutionary theory, and theoretical biology of all stripes.

    I don’t have a lot of short papers to recommend – most of what I’ve been reading lately is super long or really focused. But how about this one for showing how weird things are in the world of viruses?

    Belshaw, R., Gardner, A., Rembaut, A., and Pybus, O. G. (2008). Pacing a small cage: mutation and rna viruses. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23(4):188–193. (6 pages, free link)

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  16. Hello! I think I am already overloaded with discussion groups as it is, but how can I resist a combination of google hangout and science….I can not, is the correct answer.

    My name is Vinny and I am a 3rd year PhD student at Ohio University. I am generally interested in evolutionary ecology and herpetology. More specifically, I am interested in the role of micro-habitat in the evolution of Plethodontid salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains. I will refrain from suggesting any papers because there is already a list and I do not have anything that jumps out as critical for discussion.

  17. Hi All! I’m Tim Astrop, I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Akron, I live in the lab next to Rafael’s. I love trying to to get evolutionary biology and the fossil record to play nice together and am interested in invertebrate palaeontology, biological interactions in the fossil record, phylogenetics and quantitative morphometry. I am currently looking into the evolutionary dynamics of sexual systems in branchiopod crustacea.

    I found this paper recently that would be quite interesting to peruse:

    Sexual selection in prehistoric animals: detection and implications: http://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/abstract/S0169-5347(12)00187-5?switch=standard

  18. Hi all!

    I’m Tom White, and I’m just finishing up my honours year at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. I’m interested in all things evolutionary and behavioural ecology, and my research is mostly focused on colour signalling and playing with butterflies.

    My lab group has always been a bit small to get a journal club off the ground, so I’m looking forward to some great discussions! (I *sadly* may have to miss the first edition though…)


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  20. Hi everyone.

    I’m just finishing up my undergrad in ecology. I’m intending to apply for masters to start Sept 2013 – in macroecology, conservation biology, or ecosystem services. EvoBio isn’t my main focus but I’d love to hang out and get different perspectives on evolutionary science, as it’s a pretty fundamental field to know in order to understand ecological systems.

    I’m Andy Thompson.

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  22. Hi all! I’m Greg Slodkowicz and I’ll be starting a PhD at EMBL EBI in a month or so. I’ll work on developing new mathematical and statistical methods for inferring phylogeny. I would love to join, but not sure if it will be possible with the time difference (I’m GMT+2).

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  24. Howdy. My name is Joseph Brown and I just started a post-doc with Stephen Smith at the University of Michigan. I am a colossal phylogenetics dork (the nuts and bolts), and am interested in general statistical model selection theory. I’ve done some work developing methods in inferring diversification rates from time-calibrated phylogenies (i.e. the MEDUSA method). At the moment, I am working on storing/synthesizing phylogenetic information in explicit graph databases. A once proud pseudo-ornithologist, I’ve somehow got involved in a bewildering number of studies involving plants!

    Anyway, looking forward to this.

  25. Hello everyone! I’m Ch. Julian Villabona-Arenas and I’m a PhD Candidate at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. I am interested in RNA Viral Evolution, Phylodynamics and Philosophical stuff (http://goo.gl/f7cw3 o/).

    Later I will suggest readings on how viral genetic variation is affected by—and itself affects— transmission and epidemic dynamics, so for instance this is more of the “Hi” type of comment.

    Best wishes

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  27. Hi all, this e-journal club is a great idea! My name is Susana Wadgymar and I’m a 4th year PhD student at the University of Toronto. My interests in general include the influence of environmental conditions on life history traits and associations between phenological development and growth. More specifically, I study how climate change will affect various phenological traits, individually and cumulatively, whether any observed plasticity is adaptive and what this might mean for population persistence and conservation efforts like assisted migration. One very important aspect of any graduate experience that I feel is severely lacking for me are journal club meetings and paper discussions. I’m glad I stumbled upon this forum, can’t wait for the next meeting.

  28. I’ve been googling “online journal club” forever waiting for something like this! My name is Andrea Wishart, I am a Masters student at the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada). My current research is looking at somatic mosaicism via copy number variation in the mouse genome, but I’m looking to ease myself back into the ecology/evolution world where my passions truly lie, and looking into potential PhD programs in this field, especially in the UK.
    I don’t have any suggested readings right now, but hopefully I’ll be more engaged in the near future!

  29. Hello! I’m Heidi and I’m finishing up my PhD at Columbia in Biological Sciences. I’m broadly interested in mate selection, parental care, herpetology, phenotypic plasticity, the evolution of mating behavior. I’m quite busy trying to finish, so no paper suggestions just yet:-(

  30. Hi! Amazing idea! I would love to join – but I couldn’t yet figure out if I can still add my availability to the NeedToMeet. My name is Chandra and I just finished my MSc at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, BC, and have just started my PhD in evolutionary and community ecology at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. I am interested generally in host-selection and diversification of herbivorous insects, but many other ecological and evolutionary questions across taxa, including (community) phylogenetics, ‘eco-evo dynamics’, population genetics, specialist vs. generalist life history strategies, and statistical methods. I will think on some paper selections if I can still join!

    • hi Chandra! No need to sign up for the NeedToMeet – we’ve settled on meeting Tuesday at 5PM EDT. We will be setting a secondary time for meetings, though, so keep an eye open! 🙂

      • Just catching up to the more recent posts! Do I just follow the blog to participate in the next meeting?

      • over the next couple of days, I’ll put up a poll for readers to vote on what we should read next. the next meeting will be October 16! If you follow the blog, or any of us on twitter, you should keep up to date with what’s going on so you can join in!

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