EEB3240 laboratory

Laboratory exercises

Instructions for preparing discussions are provided below the calendar of laboratories

Research publication discussions:
All students: Every other week or so we will discuss a scientific paper presenting novel data. Papers will be assigned two weeks prior to the discussion. Each discussion will be led by two students. All students are required to read the papers.  Each student will also need to ask one question pertaining to the study. Answers and questions will be required by Wednesday 12PM the week preceding the discussion, after which time the website will be disabled (i.e., no late submissions accepted). Every student should come prepared to the discussion. The focal paper may include complex and detailed methodology; you do not need to understand all aspects, but you should be able to summary the approaches, and understand the general concepts of the approach. You may undertake this exercise by reading the introduction and then the discussion, and then ask yourself how did they acquire and analyse the data and what were the actual results, which were interpreted in the discussion. You should also consult the supplementary documents that may be on-line only. 

Students will work in pairs and prepare the discussion. Discussion leaders will be assigned the paper two weeks in advance, meet with the instructor and TA within one week, when they should present an outline of the study, including background (or justification for the study), hypotheses to be tested, overall methodological approach, main result, and their interpretation and significance.

The discussion will be held at the beginning of the lab session. Each student is expected to participate. The discussion will focus on acquiring an understanding of the background or justification for the study, the hypotheses being tested, the general methodology used, the validity, interpretation and significance of the results. The objectives of the discussions are to gain a better understanding of how science works, of science being dynamic (knowledge changes and evolves) and of course of some aspects of the biology of bryophytes and lichens.

Objectives: Understand the context of the study: what is known, what prior knowledge led to the raising the questions asked by the researchers and understand in general terms the methodology applied (what data were used, sampling size, etc). Summarize the main results. Discuss their results (this requires placing the results of this study in a broader context). Ultimately what is the contribution of this study .

Non-objectives (in fact, avoid): understanding every term used in the paper, mastering all methodologies applied and providing a comprehensive overview of the study and the research field.


  • 2 weeks before the discussion: Papers is assigned to two students who will lead the discussion.
  • week 1: students set up a 2 hour meeting with Dr. Goffinet and the TA one week before the discussion day, discuss the paper and present an outline of the study focusing on background, objectives, and implications of the paper. Questions should not be short answer style. Both students will be leading the discussion.
  • week 2: students will finalize their outline to be presented to the class.
  • D-Day: Discussion leaders give brief introduction on theme, objectives, rational, and implications of assigned paper and guide discussion around compiled questions.

Grade: Draft (1.5 pts)—Final presentation (3 pts)—Questions (1 pt)—Discussion (2.5 pts)

Every student will be required to read the paper and send in questions on Tuesday of the week preceding the Wednesday discussion. Every student will be graded for their participation in the discussion. You will need to participate in every discussion to earn 2 pts (or 2%) for your final score.

Week Laboratory topic Assignments Handout
1 (1/18) Introduction to lab practices and bryophytes Video watched in lab about bryophyte life cycle Handout Lab 1 introduction

Tree Thinking activity

Resource for understanding phylogenetic trees

2 (1/25) Hornwort and thalloid liverworts Reading 1: Villarreal&Renner_2012

Submit your question by Wednesday 11.59AM here



3 (2/1)
Discussion 1
Thalloid liverworts

(basically what was not covered last week)

4 (2/8) Leafy liverworts Lab4_Discussion_intro



5 (2/15) Mosses: Nematodontae and Arthrodonteae Reading 2: Menand et al

Submit your question by Wednesday 11.59AM here

6 (2/22) Arthrodonteae cont. Lab6MossPart2
7 (3/1)

Lecture based assessment 1: 2–7


8 (3/8)

Bryophyte identification assessment

Bryophytes and other land plants 

Reading 3: Alatalo_et_al_2020
9 (3/22)

Introduction to Discussion paper 3

Lichens: Introduction

Reading 3: Submit your question by Wednesday 11.59AM here Lab8LichensPart1
10 (3/29) Lecture based assessment 2: 8–last lecture before spring break (in class tomorrow)


Discussion 3

Lichens: photobionts, and field trip

Reading 4: Casano_et_al_2011 Lab9Lichen_photobionts
11 (4/5) Identify your lichen

Lichens: Chemistry

12 (4/12) Discussion 4


Reading 4: Submit your question by Monday 12PM here Lab11_exploring_Cladonia
13 (4/19) Tour of BRC and Lichens (herbarium Youtube video) Lab12_herbarium_and_review
14 (4/26) Lichen identification assessment

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