Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rutgers Evolution Journal Club

The Spring 2012 Cook Evolution Journal Club (AKA 16:215:550 Advanced Evolution) will be held Tuesdays 9:15-10:35 in the ENR 145 conference room. Lena Struwe ( and Siobain Duffy ( will be coordinating the class this semester.

Below is a reprint of the description of the course, and a list of what chapters from On the Origin of Species we will be discussing each day.   At the first session we will discuss Chapter 1, and we'll divvy up the remaining 13 weeks among members of the course and interested other parties.  Each chapter will then be paired with a modern (no earlier than 2002) paper on the topic, chosen by the person taking the lead on that chapter.

We are not picking an official edition of OOS -- as long as you have an unabridged version, any edition should be fine.


We will read one chapter a week, paired with a modern (less than 10 years old) research paper that addresses similar questions in evolution, but of course with 150 years of methodological progress since Darwin's thoughts of the 1850s. We think this will provide both a better of evolutionary thinking over the ages, interesting contrasts depending on available methodology and knowledge.

This is an preliminary outline for Spring 2012, with one chapter from Origin of Species per week, and suggested associated evolutionary topics.

1/17: Chapter 1 - Variation Under Domestication

1/24: Chapter 2 - Variation Under Nature - Species boundaries, What is a species?, Subspecies, Varieties, Classification.

1/31: Chapter 3 - Struggle for Existence - Competition over resources, invasive species, climate change

2/7: Chapter 4 - Natural Selection - natural selection, sexual selection, speciation, extinction

2/14: Chapter 5 - Laws of Variation - population genetics, DNA, evolution of the eye and wings, acclimatisation, reversal of characters

2/21: Chapter 6 - Difficulties on Theory- lack of transitional fossils, imperfect organs, perfectly adapted organs, misclassified organisms

2/28: Chapter 7 - Instinct - evolution of behavior, migration, learning, parasitism, slave-making ants

3/6: Chapter 8 - Hybridism - hybrid speciation in plants and animals, hybrid sterility, hybrid vigor
3/20: Chapter 9 - On the Imperfection of the Geological Record -  missing links, time frames, sudden arrival of fossils in Cambrium

3/27: Chapter 10 - On The Geological Succession of Organic Beings - evolution is slow (or maybe not!), extinction is forever, parallel evolution, evolutionary rate changes, molecular clocks

4/3: Chapter 11 - Geographical Distribution- biogeography, present distributions part of evolutionary past, barriers, dispersal of organisms, vicariance, spatial patterns

4/10: Chapter 12 - Geographical Distribution /continued  - island biogeography, etc.

4/17: Chapter 13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Organs - natural classifications, analogous and adaptive characters, ontogeny, loss of organs (eyes, color, etc.)

4/24: Chapter 14 - Recapitulation and Conclusion  - the standing of evolutionary understanding today, evolution in the classroom, creationism

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