Welcome to the Funk Lab

We strive to understand the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms that generate and maintain biological diversity using population genomics, experimental manipulations, and field studies. Our goal is to not only test basic evolutionary and ecological theory, but also directly inform policy and management decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of biodiversity.

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Congratulations to Maybellene Gamboa for passing her comprehensive exam!

Maybellene Gamboa at the “Santa Cruz Island Institute for Physiological Research” (i.e., conex box)

Maybellene Gamboa, PhD CANDIDATE!!

A huge thanks to the Funk Lab Ascaphus crew!

Alisha Shah led the field crew and shared her Zen mastery of thermal tolerance experiments with them.

A huge thanks to the Funk Lab Ascaphus crew for a tremendous effort and successful field season, sampling and conducting physiological experiments on the coolest frog on planet Earth, the tailed frog (Ascaphus truei and A. montanaus). From June to September 2016, they sampled multiple elevational gradients in northern California, the Oregon Cascades, western Montana, and northern British Columbia as part of a project aimed at understanding variation in physiological tolerance and other traits across elevational and latitudinal gradients, the genomic underpinnings of this variation, and implications for conservation of this iconic Pacific Northwest stream species.

World’s best Ascaphus crew: from left to right, Leighton King, Dalton Oliver, and Jon Suh.

The Funk Lab is recruiting a Postdoc, PhD students, and Undergrads!

Ascaphus habitat, Marten Creek, McKenzie River drainage, Oregon.

Ascaphus habitat, Marten Creek, McKenzie River drainage, Oregon.

The Funk Lab is recruiting highly motivated people with interests at the intersection of conservation genomics, evolutionary ecology, and natural history. Positions are available at the Postdoctoral, PhD, and Undergrad levels. See “Joining the Lab” and Postdoc ad for details.

Double congrats to DRA. Mónica Páez-Vacas!

Dr. Professor Mónica Páez-Vacas

Dr. Professor Mónica Páez-Vacas

A huge congratulations to Dr. Mónica Páez-Vacas for successfully defending her PhD on adaptive divergence and landscape genetics of the poison frog Epipedobates anthonyi in July. One week later, she found out she got a job as a Professor at the Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica in her hometown of Quito, Ecuador. That’s called a good week!

The Funk Lab welcomes Rebecca Cheek to the lab!

Rebecca catches dinner from the Ucayali River, Peru.

Rebecca catches dinner from the Ucayali River, Peru.

The Funk Lab welcomes its newest PhD student–Rebecca Cheek–to the lab. Rebecca hails from Fairbanks, Alaska, where she grew up and completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Alaska. She will be working on the genomics, evolutionary ecology, and conservation of the fascinating Island Scrub-Jay system for her dissertation work.

Manuscript on comparative biogeography of mayflies (Ephemeroptera) accepted for publication in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and photo of the Oyacachi River selected as journal cover

A view of the Oyacachi River. Napo Province, Ecuador. Photo by Andrea Encalada.

Proceedings of the Royal Society London B: Biological Sciences recently accepted a paper by Brian Gill and other EVOTRAC coauthors and will feature part of their Ecuadorian study area as their journal cover. In support of the ‘Mountain Passes are Higher in the Tropics’ hypothesis, the research team found higher species richness, higher cryptic diversity, and smaller elevational ranges of mayflies in the Ecuadorian Andes than in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. These differences were not detected using morphology alone, but rather only after integrating morphology and DNA barcoding, underscoring the importance of addressing cryptic diversity in large-scale biogeographic studies. These results support climate variability as an important driver of global trends in species diversity and distributions and add to the growing literature supporting higher tropical than temperate species vulnerability to global warming.

Citation: Gill BA, Kondratieff BC, Casner KL, Encalada AC, Flecker AS, Gannon DG, Ghalambor CK, Guayasamin JM, Poff NL, Simmons MP, Thomas SA, Zamudio KR, Funk WC (2016) Cryptic species diversity reveals biogeographic support for the ‘Mountain Passes are Higher in the Tropics’ hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, in press.

John Kronenberger’s manuscript on the effects of divergent immigrants on small populations accepted in Animal Conservation!

John Kronenberger, guppy biologist extraordinaire, taking shelter from the rain while sampling guppies in Trinidad.

A paper by John Kronenberger, Chris Funk, Jedidiah Smith, Sarah Fitzpatrick, Lisa Angeloni, Dale Broder, and Emily Ruell has been accepted for publication in Animal Conservation! Augmenting threatened populations with immigrants from elsewhere can be a valuable conservation strategy, but when immigrants have been long isolated from the target population or are adapted to different environments, they may cause more harm than good. In this paper, John and colleagues present results from a laboratory experiment in which small populations of Trinidadian guppies were augmented with immigrants from either an adaptively divergent or a genetically divergent source. Populations receiving immigrants fared better demographically than controls with no immigrants, suggesting that augmentation can be a valid tool even if only divergent immigrant sources are available. This project is part of our NSF-funded guppy grant.

Citation: Kronenberger JA, Funk WC, Smith JW, Fitzpatrick SW, Angeloni LM, Broder ED, Ruell EW (2016) Testing the demographic effects of divergent immigrants on small populations of Trinidadian guppies. Animal Conservation, in press.

Funk lab undergrad–Jill Gerberich–awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

Jill Gerberich with leatherback sea turtle in Trinidad.

Congratulations to Jill Gerberich for being awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!!! This is a very prestigious fellowship awarded to promising students to pursue a PhD. Jill has been an undergraduate researcher in the Funk lab for four years helping former PhD student Sarah Fitzpatrick (now a postdoc at Michigan State University) and current MS student John Kronenberger with research on the effects of gene flow on adaptation, fitness, and population dynamics in Trinidadian guppies and current postdoc Patricia Salerno with research on the effects of an historic flood on genetic variation in stream insects. Jill has also conducted independent research on dispersal patterns and fitness consequences in Trinidadian guppies. Jill’s hard work and dedication to a career in ecology and evolution has paid off. Contact Jill if you need an awesome PhD student in your lab! She plans on starting graduate school in the Fall of 2017.

Mónica Páez-Vacas awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant!!!

Mónica in her native habitat, the Ecuadorian Andes.

Congratulations to Mónica Páez-Vacas for being awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) to add genomics to her dissertation research. Mónica’s research has uncovered phenotypic divergence in size, calls, color, and thermal tolerance in the poison frog Epipedobates anthonyi across replicate elevational gradients in the Ecuadorian Andes. With the addition of genomic data, Mónica will now be able to determine the relative roles of phenotypic plasticity and adaptive evolution in generating this fascinating pattern of phenotypic divergence.
Epipedobates anthonyi

Epipedobates anthonyi

Front Range frogs make the cover of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology!

A paper by Chris, Melanie Murphy, Kim Hoke, Erin Muths, Staci Amburgey, Emily Moriarty Lemmon, and Alan Lemmon is featured on the cover of this month’s issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology! Mountains are global centers of biodiversity, but the evolutionary processes generating this incredible diversity are still poorly understood. Pioneering research by David Pettus–a former CSU Zoology Professor–and his students in the 1960s and 1970s demonstrated adaptive divergence in multiple traits across the elevational gradient of the Colorado Front Range. Here, Chris and colleagues show that this adaptive divergence is associated with restricted gene flow between high vs. low elevation populations, suggesting they may be diverging into distinct, reproductively isolated species. This is one of only a handful of studies to demonstrate that divergent selection across elevational gradients can initiate the process of speciation.

Citation: Funk WC, Murphy MA, Hoke KL, Muths E, Amburgey SA*, Lemmon EM, Lemmon AR (2016) Elevational speciation in action? Restricted gene flow associated with adaptive divergence across an altitudinal gradient. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29, 241-252.