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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Vulnerability to climate change

Upper waterfall, upstream view 2_21_02 #1 Waterfall and stream in Ecuadorian Andes Predicting the consequences of rapid climate change for biodiversity loss and ecosystem function is an urgent scientific challenge. This project, which we call “EvoTRAC” (Evolutionary and Ecological Variability in Organismal Trait Response with Altitude and Climate), will experimentally quantify mechanisms of species and ecosystem sensitivity to warming and increased variation in precipitation, using small streams in the Colorado Rockies and the Ecuadorian Andes as study systems. Theory predicts tropical stream species (aquatic insects and frogs) will be more physiologically sensitive to warming or greater variability in stream discharge than temperate species, and sensitivity should increase for species living in high elevations (alpine zones) versus lowland streams (foothills). High elevation species are also hypothesized to be at greater risk to reduced dissolved oxygen, which will accompany stream warming. We are testing these predictions by experimental manipulation of flow in alpine streams and measurement of the physiological tolerance of species to warming and reduced oxygen. We are also discovering new species using advanced genetic techniques, and assessing the ability of species to move between streams as climate changes using cutting-edge landscape genomic techniques. Our ultimate goal is to provide a novel, integrative model for predicting species and stream ecosystem responses to climate shifts.

Visit the EvoTRAC website for the latest EvoTRAC news and results.

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