Welcome to the Funk Lab

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



Alisha Shah and colleagues publish paper in Global Change Biology!

Alisha learning to conduct metabolic rate experiments in her first week of grad school

Congratulations to Dr. Alisha Shah–Ghalambor and Funk lab alumna–for the acceptance of her paper in Global Change Biology! Alisha and team tested the climate variability hypothesis by comparing standard metabolic rates in baetid mayflies and perlid stoneflies across elevation and latitude. Mayflies conformed to expectations, but stoneflies did not. Specifically, we found that metabolic rates of tropical mayflies are more sensitive to (change more rapidly with) increasing temperature than temperate mayflies. Higher mortality and behavioral stress in these mayflies provided further support for our conclusions. Stoneflies seemed to show no variation in metabolic rate across elevation and latitude. This may be a result of their evolutionary history, their generally predatory lifestyle, and/or their long-lived aquatic stage. Our exciting results align with other studies of thermal physiology in this system. We concluded that climatic variation plays a role in shaping thermal physiology, but not equally in all species. This may mean that not all tropical species are equally imperiled by climate change. Some may be less affected by warming even if they live in the same habitat and experience the same conditions as more vulnerable species.

Funk lab alumnus Brian Gill lands new postdoc at the University of Arizona!

Congratulations to Funk lab alumnus Dr. Brian Gill who has accepted a position as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Principal Investigator Michael Bogan in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. Brian will work on StreamCLIMES, an NSF funded Macrosystems Biology project with the goal of understanding how drying affects stream ecosystems across the southern half of the United States. He will also work locally in Tucson on the biotic impacts of effluent on stream ecosystems with an emphasis on the Santa Cruz river.

Maybellene Gamboa wins CSU Department of Biology Graduate Student Impact in Teaching and Mentoring Award!

Maybellene Gamboa holding a Channel Islands Song Sparrow.

Congratulations to Maybellene Gamboa–a PhD candidate in the Funk and Ghalambor labs–for being awarded a CSU Department of Biology Graduate Student Impact in Teaching and Mentoring Award! Maybellene earned this award due to her passion for and dedication to undergraduate teaching. She received this for many reasons, chief among them her dedication to making sure that ALL students she teaches have equal access to learning from a top-notch instructor. Another thing that has set Maybellene’s teaching apart is her drive to continually gain new teaching skills and perspectives. Maybellene is in the final push to finish her PhD. Any institutions looking for an up-and-coming teaching star should snap her up as soon as they can. Congrats Maybellene!

Amanda Cicchino scores big, winning multiple ecology grants & scholarships!

Amanda Cicchino in the Galápagos islands.

Funk lab PhD student Amanda Cicchino has been awarded two different scholarships/grants this spring to continue her awesome research on tailed frog (Ascaphus spp.) ecophysiology, conservation genomics, and vulnerability to climate change. First, Amanda won a Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE) Small Grant for Graduate Research. Then, the very next week, Amanda won a Dr. Heather M. Rueth Ecology Scholarship by the CSU Department of Biology. Way to go, Amanda!

Rebecca Cheek accepted to the Sustainability Leadership Fellows program!

Rebecca Cheek conducting field work on Island Scrub-jays on Santa Cruz Island, CA.

Congratulations to Funk and Ghalambor lab PhD candidate Rebecca Cheek for being accepted to the Sustainability Leadership Fellows (SLF) program! The SLF program is a competitive program through CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability that accepts 20 advanced PhD students and postdoctoral scholars from across campus each year who are interested in communicating sustainability-related research to broad audiences. Fellows are provided training in network building, strategies for academic engagement in political and public discourse, and techniques to develop leadership and interdisciplinary collaboration skills.

Congratulations to Brenna Forester for being selected as a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow!

A huge congratulations to Brenna Forester–Funk lab postdoc extraordinaire–for being awarded a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship, the most prestigious postdoctoral fellowship in conservation in the country. The goal of the Smith Fellows program is to provide innovative training to early career scientists to enable them to find solutions to pressing conservation problems. Each fellow’s research is conducted in partnership with academic and conservation practitioner mentors. Brenna will complete her project entitled “Integrating genomics into Endangered Species Act listing frameworks” under the academic mentorship of Chris Funk (Colorado State University) and Erin Landguth (University of Montana) and in partnership with Robin Waples (NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service) and Cat Darst (US Fish and Wildlife Service). We are delighted that Brenna will continue to be a member of the Funk lab as she tackles this important conservation problem at the interface of genomics and policy.

Sarah Fitzpatrick’s paper on the genomic and fitness consequences of genetic rescue published in Current Biology!

Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata) (Photo: Chris Funk)

Although gene flow may limit adaptation, it can also rescue small, inbred populations. Sarah Fitzpatrick–former Funk lab PhD student and current Assistant Professor at Michigan State University–led our paper just out in Current Biology documenting genetic rescue in wild populations of Trinidadian guppies. Combining wild pedigrees, mark-recapture data, and genomics, we find that gene flow from an adaptively divergent source population increases population growth rates without completely swamping locally adaptive alleles. Our results add to a growing body of literature showing that genetic rescue can be an effective strategy for increasing sizes and preventing extinction of small, isolated populations.

Funk lab and colleagues publish new paper on the exciting potential and remaining uncertainties of genetic rescue

Genetic rescue has been used as a management strategy to increase population sizes of mountain pygmy possums (Photo: Andrew Weeks)

Theory and data show that genetic rescue–a decrease in extinction probability due to gene flow–is an effective management tool for small, isolated populations. Despite this, genetic rescue is rarely used to boost population sizes, which has spurred a call for a paradigm shift for widespread use of genetic rescue. In this opinion piece led by Donovan Bell and Zak Robinson from the Whiteley lab at the University of Montana, we argue that although genetic rescue is promising and should be applied more widely, several questions remain regarding the duration and magnitude of genetic rescue effects and when negative effects might occur. In addition, we conclude by highlighting how new genomic methods can improve implementation of genetic rescue.

Daryl’s paper on puma landscape genomics accepted in Molecular Ecology!

Camera trap photo of mountain lion in the Colorado Front Range (Photo: Jesse Lewis)

Large apex predators are sensitive to urbanization because of their dependence on extensive contiguous habitats to support their large home rages and an abundant prey base. In a paper recently published in Molecular Ecology, postdoc Daryl Trumbo and colleagues performed a landscape genomics study on pumas (Puma concolor; also known colloquially as mountain lions, cougars, panthers, catamounts) using over 12,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 130 pumas across an urban-rural divide in Colorado. This large SNP data set revealed differing patterns of dispersal and gene flow in rural versus urban settings, indicating ecological and behavioral differences in movement patterns between these contrasting landscapes. Although there was evidence that urbanization impacts gene flow and effective population sizes, no effect on genetic diversity was detected. This suggests that Colorado pumas are affected by increasing levels of urbanization in this rapidly growing state, but are not yet experiencing the extensive genomic impacts that pumas are in more fragmented landscapes like southern California and Florida.

Collaborative research on genetic rescue featured in Science magazine!

Trinidadian guppy pair. Photo credit: Paul Bentzen.

Our collaborative research on genetic rescue was featured in Science magazine. Former Funk Lab PhD student, Dr. Sarah Fitzpatrick (now an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University), was featured prominently in the article written by Elizabeth Pennisi. Sarah talked about our latest research using guppies as a model system for testing the effectiveness of genetic rescue. In addition, our new opinion piece on genetic rescue published last week in Trends in Ecology and Evolution was highlighted.