Each participating student will give a seminar presentation to the entire class. For undergraduates, seminars should be 15 minutes long with 5 minutes for discussions and elaboration. For grad students, seminars should be 25 minutes, again with time for questions.

We will undertake these seminars once we arrive in Mexico starting at Las Joyas (ensure that your presentations are available on a memory stick or SD card and preferably in pdf or older PowerPoint format).

Be sure to use Mexico and Middle America as your touchstone for these seminars, but also compare to Canada and other countries to provide context. For example, for taxon specific seminars: How many species are there in Mexico versus Canada? How does each country rank in terms of global biodiversity? Where do most species occur in terms of habitat and geography? Why are some groups so speciose/depauperate? Which families or orders (or other higher-level taxon) tend to dominate in Mexico? What proportion of species is endemic? For other topics, be sure to use Mexican case studies, provide Middle American context, or situate Mexico geographically. For example, for such topics as ecotourisim or conservation in agricultural landscapes, be sure to find examples that are Mexico- or Middle America-specific. Be sure to impart rigor to your talk (e.g. not simply a slide show of pretty pictures, but a thorough treatment of the topic that you have been charged with).

Order of presentation will be according to the ordered list on our web site. We ask that you provide a one-page summary hand-out and make enough copies for everyone.

Your talk will be evaluated based on: Background & Context, Content & Thoroughness, Visuals, and Presentation style. We have prepared a seminar_evaluation sheet. These will provide additional insights into grading. Evaluation will be done both by your peers and by the instructors. Please try to print off 15 of these and bring them with you.

Click | here | to find pdf of these instructions plus some useful tips for preparing your talk.

Seminar topics

  1. Phytogeography of Mexico. Vegetation patterns, biomes and ecozones, and factors that influence them (e.g. topography, geology, climate). Emily Grishaber
  2. Biodiversity of intertidal and estuarine regions. With particular emphasis on zonation, the adaptive and physiological challenges, and their ecological importance. Evelyn Newman
  3. Amphibians: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. Sean Vanderluit
  4. Reptiles: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. Chenxi Dong
  5. Birds: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. Kristen Hayward
  6. Mammals: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. Darcey Pearson
  7. Feeding the world: Crops that originated in the New World. Sydney Berman
  8. Biodiversity hotspots. Definitions, ecological and evolutionary reasons for elevated diversity, and importance in conservation. Emphasis on Central American and Mexican examples. Claire Stewart
  9. Ecotourism and conservation. Benefits and points of concern. Jamie Mackay
  10. Impacts of industrial agriculture on biodiversity. Comparing monocultural to polycultural practices. Impacts of GMOs on diversity? Leah Gotkin
  11. Closing of the Isthmus of Panama and its influence on Neotropical and Nearctic flora and fauna. (The Great Faunal Exchange). Kayleigh Casmey
  12. Co-evolution: definition, diagnosis, and compelling tropical empirical examples. Has co-evolution played a role in shaping elevated diversity of particularly speciose groups? Liam Harrison
  13. Changing landscapes and functional diversity. Gerardo Guzmán Aguilar
  14. Habitat management under climate change challenges. Jorge Herrera Franco
  15. Environmental stress: What can we learn from birds? Yanet Villaseñor Cortez