Student Seminars

| Seminar Guidelines | Evaluation Sheet | Seminar Articles |


Each participating student will give a seminar presentation to the entire class based on a key paper from the primary literature. You are to review the research described in the paper but your seminar should go beyond this. You should begin with an overview of the broader questions in ecology and evolution, and then narrow it down to the specific questions that are the focus of your paper. Similarly, at the end of your seminar you should provide context as to how you think the research has clarified a particular issue in ecology and evolution (or conservation or herpetology). Seminars should be 15 minutes long with 5 minutes for discussions and elaboration.

Prepare PowerPoint slides in advance and be prepared to give your seminar at the outset of the course. Order of presentation will be according to the ordered list below. Your talk will be evaluated based on: Background & Context, Content & Thoroughness, Visuals, and Presentation style. A seminar evaluation sheet can be found on the course web site and this will provide additional insights on grading. Evaluation will be done both by your peers and by the instructors.

Seminar Evaluation 2017

A few useful tips for preparing and delivering an excellent seminar.

Visual aids.

  • Make sure to use simple and clear telegraphic prose (i.e. point form).
  • If possible redraw graphs and redo tables, again using appropriate font size.
  • Label all figures, graphs and graph axes.
  • Use a large font size so that all audience members can clearly read the text (typically 24point or larger)
  • Use the same font throughout presentation.
  • Be consistent with use of font size, colour and style (e.g. Headings 28 pt. boldface red, Other text 24 pt. Regular black).
  • Avoid some colour combinations (e.g. yellow on white, red on green).
  • Note that large pictures that require a lot of memory often slow down your presentation.
  • Avoid complicated backgrounds (simple one-colour backgrounds we find allow all
  • visuals to be seen easily)


  • Keep your presentation within the time limit. You will be penalized for a seminar that is too long. Note that the equivalent of one double-spaced typewritten page usually takes about 2-3 minutes to present.
  • A seminar that is too short implies that you do not have much to say or have not read the paper thoroughly.
  • Do not read your PowerPoint slides verbatim and make sure to face the audience not the screen or your computer.
  • Use the active voice and first person where possible. (e.g. “I think …” rather than “ It is my opinion …”).
  • Make eye contact as this makes audience members feel involved.
  • State your objectives clearly, and maintain the same logical structure throughout.
  • Convey your ideas in clear direct sentences (i.e. don’t make it sound like you are reading from a book).
  • Explain all figures and tables thoroughly.
  • Allow sufficient time for people to understand slides and overheads.
  • Talk (relatively) slowly so the your audience can follow
  • Vary the volume and pitch of your voice to maintain interest.
  • Note that in English an upward at the end of a sentence indicates a question.
  • Practice your seminar out loud to check timing.
  • Try to avoid verbal tics like “ah’s”, “er’s”, “like” or other distracting behaviours.

Seminar Articles

  • Stefan & Guyer. 2014 Display behaviour and dewlap colour as predictors of contest success in brown anoles. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2014, 111, 646–655. Presenter: Kristin Rodrigo 
  • De Lisle & Rowe. 2015. Parasitism and the expression of sexual dimorphism. Ecology and Evolution. 5: 961–967. Presenter: Uldana Zhanigirova
  • Borzée et al. 2016. Asymmetric competition over calling sites in two closely related treefrog species. Scientific Reports 6: 32569. Published online 2016 September 7. doi: 10.1038/srep32569. Presenter: David Zslavsky
  • Todd et al. 2016. Immune activation influences the trade-off between thermoregulation and shelter use. Animal Behaviour 118: 27-32. Presenter: Emma Bloomfiled
  • Kaczynski et al. 2016. Male treefrogs in low condition resume signaling faster following simulated predator attack. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 70: 347–355. Presenter: Cory Trowbridge
  • Johnson et al. 2016. Manipulation of basking sites for endangered eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. Journal of Wildlife Management 80: 803-811. Presenter: Alex Israel
  • Polo-Cavia et al. 2012. Feeding status and basking requirements of freshwater turtles in an invasion context. Physiology & Behavior 105: 1208-1213. Presenter: Ariana Emami
  • Peterman & Semlitsch. 2014. Spatial variation in water loss predicts terrestrial salamander distribution and population dynamics. OECOLOGIA. 176: 357-369. Presenter: Colby Nolan
  • McElroy. 2015. Teasing apart crypsis and aposematism – evidence that disruptive coloration reduces predation on a noxious toad. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 117: 285-294. 10.1111/bij.12669. Presenter: Melek Gokce
  • Kraemer et al. 2014. Predator perception of batesian mimicry and conspicuousness in a salamander. evolution. Evolution. 68: 1197-1206. Presenter: Sarah Ouellet
  • Stoler et al. 2015. Leaf litter resource quality induces morphological changes in wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) metamorphs. Oecologia 179: 667-677. Presenter: Angela Beaton
  • Shaffery et al. 2016. Dissecting the smell of fear from conspecific and heterospecific prey: investigating the processes that induce anti-predator defenses. Oecologia 180: 55-65. Presenter: Victor Suay Espi