Journal Club - Spring Semester 2012

The Journal Club takes place from 11:15-12:00 every Tuesday during term (in the seminar room of the Zoological Institute, Vesalgasse 1, first floor). This semester the moderators are Lukas Schärer and Lucas Marie-Orleach. For questions regarding the seminar please contact

The introduction (Vorbesprechung) to this course takes place on Tuesday, 6.3.2012, at 11h15, during which we will distribute the paper presentation slots.


Date Paper Presenter
21.2. no seminar
28.2. no seminar (Fasnacht)
6.3. introduction and slot assignment Lukas Schärer
13.3. Sabree et al. 2012. Genome Shrinkage and Loss of Nutrient-Providing Potential in the Obligate Symbiont of the Primitive Termite Mastotermes darwiniensis. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 78: p. 204-210. Alexandra Mushegian
20.3. Wagner et al. 2011. Azooxanthellate? Most Hawaiian black corals contain Symbiodinium. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278: 1323-1328.
Marielou Sison
27.3. Gamberale-Stille et al. 2012. Feature saltation and the evolution of mimicry. Evolution 66: 807-817.
Jessica Michel
3.4. Kamimura 2005. Last-male paternity of Euborellia plebeja, an earwig with elongated genitalia and sperm-removal behavior. Journal of Ethology 23: 35-41 Lina Sandrin
10.4. Ron 2008. The evolution of female mate choice for complex calls in túngara frogs. Animal Behaviour 76: 1783-179
Bernd Egger
17.4. Chen et al. 1997. Convergent evolution of antifreeze glycoproteins in Antarctic notothenioid fish and Arctic cod. Proceedings of the Nathional Academy of Sciences USA 94: 3817-3822. Marisa Zubler
24.4. Neufeld & Palmer 2008. Precisely proportioned: intertidal barnacles alter penis form to suit coastal wave action. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 275: 1081-1087 Aline Schlatter
1.5. no seminar (1st of May) -
8.5. Cameron et al. 2009. Social bonds between unrelated females increase reproductive success in feral horses. Proceedings of the Nathional Academy of Sciences USA 106: 13850–13853.
Anita Christen
15.5. Evans et al. 2012. Assessing the potential for egg chemoattractants to mediate sexual selection in a broadcast spawning marine invertebrate. Proceedings of the Royal Society (online early, doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.0181) Lucas Marie-Orleach
22.5. Dijkstra et al. 2012. ‘Winner effect’ without winning: Unresolved social conflicts increase the probability of winning a subsequent contest in a cichlid fish. Physiology & Behavior 105: 489-492
Tania Bosia
29.5. Lengagne et al 1999. How do king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) apply the mathematical theory of information to communicate in windy conditions? Proceedings of the Royal Society B 266: 1623-1628 Michaela Maurer

How it works:

The main goal of journal club is that participants get to practice the critical reading and discussion of published primary research. Why is a study interesting? Is it experimentally well performed and analyzed correctly? Are the conclusions justified or do the authors over-interpret their findings? Questions such as these are often not easy to answer. But they make up a central component of scientific debate, work and progress. Another central skill, also requiring practice, is the defense of research and the effective countering of the criticism raised by others. Together, criticism and defense make up scientific debate - e.g., in discussions with colleagues, when you give a presentation at a conference, or in your PhD-defense.

For each journal club session, one participant makes a suggestion for a paper to the moderators, who then decide if it is suitable for the course. General criteria for paper selection are: 1) that the paper is focussed on the broader field of evolution, 2) that it is a primary research paper (not a review), 3) that it was published recently, 4) and that it was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Also, shorter papers with a simple message are preferable.

The participant has to send the paper suggestion as a PDF to Lukas Schärer ( at least two weeks before his/her session. After approval, the pdf document will be provided on this website and can be downloaded by clicking on the title. All discussions will be in English.

During the seminar a randomly chosen participant then gives a short overview of the content of the paper (about 10 minutes) with special attention to: background for understanding the question at hand, experimental approaches and details, results and conclusions. Therefore, all participants are expected to have read the paper. In the subsequent discussion, the other course participants discuss and critically evaluate the paper. More details about the format will be provided in the introduction session on the 6.3.2012.

In order to receive the 2 KPs for this course the participants have to attend at least 9 paper discussions (out of 11), present a paper during the Seminar and write a short (about 2-3 pages) summary of the article, focussing on the following aspects:

(1) Background - What do we know?
(2) Question - What was the question tackled by researchers in this paper?
(3) Material and Methods - What was the main experimental approach?
(4) Results and Discussion - What are the main results and conclusions presented in the paper?
(5) Group Discussion Summary - What were the main criticisms and praises? Did we come to an agreement about the conclusions? What did we learn? What should have been done differently in the study? What would be interesting subsequent experiments?

This course can be taken (and credit points collected) more than once. If you cannot register for the course (because you received already KPs under the same course number), please speak to the course instructor.

Previous Journal Clubs: