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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Review on genetic rescue accepted in Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE)

Authors of TREE paper. Andrew Whiteley, University of Massachusetts Amherst (top left); Dave Tallmon, University of Alaska Southeast (top right); Sarah Fitzpatrick, Colorado State University (bottom left), W. Chris Funk, Colorado State University (bottom right).

Authors of TREE paper. Andrew Whiteley, University of Massachusetts Amherst (top left); Dave Tallmon, University of Alaska Southeast (top right); Sarah Fitzpatrick, Colorado State University (bottom left), W. Chris Funk, Colorado State University (bottom right).

Genetic rescue is an increase in population fitness caused by the immigration of new alleles into a small or declining population. In this recently accepted paper, Andrew Whiteley (Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst), Sarah Fitzpatrick (PhD Candidate at Colorado State University), W. Chris Funk (Associate Professor at Colorado State University), and Dave Tallmon (Associate Professor at the University of Alaska Southeast) reviewed genetic rescue studies to assess its effectiveness and provide recommendations for future research and implementation of genetic rescue. Despite the reluctance of managers to use genetic rescue out of fears of diluting local gene pools, the majority of studies reviewed found a net positive benefit on population fitness. Genetic rescue is a tool that can provide population resilience and will become increasingly useful if integrated with advances in genomics.

Citation: Whiteley AR, Fitzpatrick SW, Funk WC, Tallmon DA (In Press) Genetic rescue to the rescue. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Historic guppy transplant experiments in Trinidad provide a replicated test of the balance between selection and gene flow in nature, revealing that adaptive traits are maintained in the face of high gene flow

IMG_1213 Sarah Fitzpatrick (PhD candidate), Lisa Angeloni (Associate Professor), Jill Gerberich (REU student), John Kronenberger (PhD student), and Chris Funk (Associate Professor) set out to the streams of Trinidad to investigate the impacts of previous transplant experiments where Trinidadian guppies were moved from stream localities with many predators into upstream tributaries with few predators. Guppies from these introduced populations have provided one of the best examples of rapid adaptation in the wild. But until now, the impact of the non-native guppies, as they get washed downstream and interact with native populations, was unknown.

Using genetic markers, our team found that the genetic signature of introduced guppies swept to long downstream distances, indicating high levels of gene flow downstream from all introduction sites on a rapid timescale. However, despite genetic uniformity caused by introductions, guppies maintained phenotypic traits that best allowed them to survive and reproduce, given their local predator community. In other words, genetic homogenization did not cause the loss of locally adapted phenotypes.

Citation: Fitzpatrick SW, Gerberich JC, Kronenberger J, Angeloni LM, Funk WC (In Press) Locally adapted traits maintained in the face of high gene flow. Ecology Letters.

Chris’ first Ecuador study abroad class a huge success!

20140616_Black_howler_1_croppedMantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) on Ecuadorian coast. Chris’ first Ecuador study abroad course in June and July 2014 was a huge success. CSU undergraduate students visited many of Ecuador’s diverse habitats (lowland Amazonian rainforest, cloud forest, páramo, coast); learned how to conduct field research; and got academic credit for it! The course will be taught next in January 2015. Click here to learn more and register.
20140618_group_photo_4Group photo near Volcán Antisana. 20140622_Clouds draping C GuacamayoView of clouds draping the Cordillera Guacamayo from the world’s best cloud forest research station, Yanayacu Biological Station.

NSF EEID proposal on the effects of landscape structure and management interventions on mountain lion disease dynamics funded!!!

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Puma (Photo by Jesse Lewis)

We’re thrilled to announce that our collaborative NSF EEID (Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases) proposal to investigate the effects of landscape structure and management interventions on mountain lion disease dynamics was funded! Our research team includes Sue VandeWoude (CSU Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology), Kevin Crooks (CSU Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology), Meggan Craft (University of Minnesota), Scott Carver (University of Tasmania), and Chris Funk (CSU Biology). The research will trace the spread of two apathogenic, contact-dependent retroviral agents in geographically distinct puma populations under three different management regimes: (1) supplementation and recovery of the highly endangered Florida panther, (2) large-scale manipulative harvest experiments of a rural Colorado puma population, and (3) steady-state management of puma populations in the Colorado Front Range and Southern California. In addition, the research will inform the disease dynamics of pathogenic diseases from models developed using apathogenic diseases.

Sarah Fitz awarded a Reed Fellowship to study the guppy microbiome and diet!

 Fitz_in_black_truck Congrats to Sarah Fitz for being awarded a Reed Fellowship to study the microbiome and diet of Trinidadian guppies!! She and her collaborators will be testing the effects of host genetics and environmental variation on their gut microbiomes.

Congratulations to Jill Gerberich for being awarded a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research!!

 Jill G photo Congrats to Jill Gerberich for being awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma Xi! She’ll be using the funding for her undergraduate research on dispersal and gene flow in Trinidadian guppies.

Maybellene Gamboa awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!!!

 IMG_0272 Congrats to May Gamboa for being awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!!! Now she’ll have time to sample ALL of the Song Sparrows on the Channel Islands!

Sarah Fitz wins the College of Natural Sciences Graduate Student Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award!

fitz_w_fish Congrats to Sarah Fitzpatrick for winning the CNS Graduate Student Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award in recognition of her dedication to undergraduate mentoring!

Maybellene Gamboa passes the Dave Dewey driving test!

DSC_0031 May is now set to drive the steep, narrow, and winding roads of Santa Cruz Island so that she can sample all of the Song Sparrows on the island!

Congratulations to Brian Gill for passing his comprehensive exam!!

Brian_comps Brian Gill, PhD CANDIDATE!!