Papers to Read


The papers provided here are meant to provide an entry point into the literature for going more deeply into various topics covered in class. These papers have been picked either because they are particularly beautiful insights into evolution or because they showcase some topic that will be central to the course. The papers that of most direct relevance to what we will cover in class are linked on the "Syllabus" part of the website.

Galapagos reader

This reader comes from a course similar to ours at Cornell University and is full of useful papers from the original literature about the Galapagos.

The Great Naturalists and Deep Time

The Sarawak Law: This is the paper where Alfred Russel Wallace asserts the fact of evolution with his observation about the relationships between similar species in space and time.

Wallace's paper on natural selection: This paper written by Wallace after a fit of malaria articulates his mechanism for evolution by natural selection/p>

Sulloway 1982: This paper is a scholarly study of the role that the study of finches did and did not play in Darwin's thinking.

(Various authors) 2009: This series of articles commemorates the 200th birthday of Darwin in 2009 with some excellent insights into how our understanding of evolution has matured since the time of Darwin.

Radioactive isotope dating: This website gives a number of insights into how radioactive isotopes are used as "clocks in the rocks."

Telford & Copley 2011: This paper describes the recent use of other genomic features besides the sequence itself that have been used for phylogenetic purposes.

Sleep 1989: This paper is a study of large impacts on the surface of the Earth and their implications for life.

Philip Gingerich:This fantastic video chronicles the work of Philip Gingerich and his discoveries of fossils which help us understand whale evolution.

Andrew Knoll:The excellent lecture by Andrew Knoll explains the challenges of exploring the history of life before the Cambrian.

From Mendel to the Genome

Luria/Delbruck 1943: This classic paper describes the efforts of Luria and Delbruck to measure how mutations conspire to yield resistance of bacteria to viral infection.

Lang 2008: This is a modern use of the Luria-Delbruck fluctuation test to yeast and is the basis for the experiments we will do in class.

The Forces of Evolution

Guppy evolution: The website of Prof. David Reznick gives some beautiful insights into his long term studies of the ecology and evolution of guppies in Trinidad.

Mitchell-Olds 2006: This paper reports on careful studies that have been made on natural variation in the "model organism" Arabidopsis thaliana.

Buri 1956: This paper is a classic study on genetic drift in a small population of fruit flies.

Evolution in Action

Palumbi 2001: This paper describes some of the many ways in which humans are rewriting the story of evolution and how those changes incur an economic cost.

Berry 2009: This paper describes the views of modern scientists on some of the ways that reading Darwin's original book enriches our understanding of evolution.

Clack 2009: Jennifer Clack has made very important studies of the fossil record and what it has to say about the fish-tetrapod transition.

Thewissen 2009: Thewissen has been a key player in the study of the fossil record of whales and this article gives an impression of progress that has been made in this beautiful and important area.

Naturalists with Genomes - Island Biogeography - Wallace and Indonesia

Lovejoy 2013: This report describes a beautiful experiment carried out in the forests of South America that tests some of the ideas on "island biogeography" in isolated ecosystems.

Emerson 2002: This paper shows how modern molecular understanding has enriched our study of evolution on islands.

Bailey 1976: This interesting paper provides a puzzle by telling us the ages of the Galapagos Islands. The puzzle concerns the age of the finches which appears to be longer than the age of the islands themselves.

Quammen 2013: David Quammen wrote a masterpiece on island biogeography and in this short article he gives us an impression of the role of Wallace in Indonesia (the Malay Archipelago) in the emergence of island biogeography.

Cooper 2014: This paper describes the phenomenon of island tameness, famously remarked upon by Darwin in the Galapagos. A news article describing the paper can be found here.


Papers brought up during the class