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.



Visitors to Funk Lab


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


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!!

NSF RAPID proposal to test the effects of the epic September 2013 floods on stream biodiversity funded!

Drunella_doddsi_2Drunella doddsi, a Colorado Front Range mayfly species, one of many species that may have been affected by the September 2013 floods in the Colorado Front Range. Our collaborative proposal between CSU (PIs: LeRoy Poff, W. Chris Funk, and Boris Kondratieff) and Cornell University (PI: Alex Flecker) to test the effects of the epic September 2013 floods in the Colorado Front Range on stream insect biodiversity was funded by NSF! This extreme flood event, which was widely reported by the national media for its adverse economic impacts and loss of human life, occurred outside the range of historical variation in terms of disturbance magnitude and timing. Importantly, such events are predicted to increase in frequency with climate change. As part of our current NSF-funded EvoTRAC project, we have already collected extensive data on stream insect diversity, genomic variation, community composition, and ecosystem function in the summers of 2011-2013. Because of these pre-flood data, we are in an excellent position to directly test the effects of variation in the magnitude of flooding on stream biodiversity, from the genomic to ecosystem levels. Now, thanks to the NSF RAPID program, we can take advantage of this opportunity by re-sampling our study sites this summer and then comparing genomic variation, community composition, and ecosystem function pre- vs post-flooding to test the flood’s effects. You can read more about this project in Today@CSU.
BT Black Canyon 2411m_smExample of the dramatic changes in stream structure caused by the historic September 2013 floods in the Colorado Front Range. At Black Canyon, shown here, the water level rose approximately 5 m and all riparian vegetation, except for the largest trees, were blown out. Note the house upstream which has been washed into the stream by the floods. EvoTRAC sites in relation to Front Range precipMap showing the distribution of rainfall during the September 2013 floods relative to our EvoTRAC focal sites. Since the rains fell directly on top of our sites, we are in an excellent position to test the effects of the flood on stream biodiversity by re-sampling these sites post-flood.

Sarah, Lisa, and Chris give talk to high school students in Couva, Trinidad, about biodiversity, evolution, and conservation

DSC_0107Sarah explaining to high school students how evolutionary concepts can be applied to biodiversity conservation. On February 7th, Sarah Fitzpatrick, Lisa Angeloni, and Chris Funk gave a talk for high school students in Darlene Peters’ class at the Holy Faith Convent girl’s school about biodiversity, evolution, and conservation. In addition to talking about the roles of natural and sexual selection in generating biodiversity, we also highlighted the important role Trinidadian species–particularly guppies–have played in testing evolutionary theory. Our audience was wonderful, listening carefully and asking great questions! This outreach is part of our guppy gene flow project.
DSC_0109After our talk, we were honored to be presented with a thank you card signed by all of the students in the class AND a wonderful fruit basket! DSC_0113Group photo after our talk.

Sarah Fitzpatrick’s paper on the landscape and conservation genetics of Arkansas darters–an imperiled Great Plains fish–accepted for publication by Conservation Genetics!

Ark_Darter_02adjArkansas darter (Photo credit: Kurt Fausch) Great Plains streams are increasingly fragmented by water diversion and climate change, threatening connectivity of fish populations in this ecosystem. In collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperation, we conducted a landscape genetics study for Arkansas darters (a candidate for listing under the US Endangered Species Act) throughout southeastern Colorado. We found that habitat variables affected population genetic patterns in spite  of overall low levels of within population diversity and little connectivity among populations. Available and wetted stream habitat were positively associated with genetic diversity within a site, while stream distance and intermittency predicted divergence among sites. We also found little contribution from hatchery supplementation efforts. We provided a set of management recommendations for this species that incorporate a conservation genetics perspective.

Citation: Fitzpatrick SW, Crockett H, and Funk WC (In press) Water availability strongly impacts genetic patterns of an imperiled Great Plains stream fish. Conservation Genetics.