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 (approximately 20 in total).

Your talk will be evaluated based on: Background & Context, Content & Thoroughness, Visuals, and Presentation style. We have prepared a seminar evaluation sheet and this will provide additional insights into grading. Evaluation will be done both by your peers and by the instructors.

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


  1. Phytogeography of Mexico. Vegetation patterns and factors that influence them (e.g. topography, geology, climate). [Daniel Gillis]
  2. Marine coastal diversity (particularly Gulf of California and Gulf of Mexico). Patterns, diversity, and origins. [Christopher Lanz]
  3. Diversity of intertidal and estuarine regions. With particular emphasis on the adaptive and physiological challenges. [Rachel Cassie]
  4. Amphibians: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. [Samantha McCaul]
  5. Reptiles: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. [Daniel Khlalil]
  6. Birds: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. [Kalen Gabriel]
  7. Mammals: Patterns of diversity, ecology, biogeographic origins, and conservation. [Nicole Duic]
  8. Feeding the world: Crops that Originated in the New World. [Ying Chen]
  9. Biodiversity hotspots. Definitions, reasons for elevated diversity, and importance in conservation. Emphasis on Central American and Mexican examples. [Niki Bayat]
  10. Ecotourism and conservation. Benefits and points of concern. [Tristan Frappier-Brinton]
  11. Impacts of agriculture on biodiversity. Comparing monocultural to polycultural practices. Industrial to local and subsistence agriculture. [Brianna Chadwick]


  1. Latitudinal gradient – pattern, global generality and major hypotheses for its existence. [Jie Yuen Ong]
  2. Closing of the Isthmus of Panama and its influence on Neotropical and Nearctic flora and fauna. (The Great Faunal Exchange). [Danielle Beaulne]
  3. Global climate change and its potential  influence on species and habitat distributions. [Amanda Cicchino]
  4. Co-evolution: definition, diagnosis, and compelling tropical empirical examples. [Donna Paznar]
  5. Gap forest dynamics and their importance in maintaining diversity. [Anastasia Paznar]