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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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Funk Lab publishes PNAS paper on the causes of megadiversity in tropical mountains!

EvoTRAC field crew during stream “bioblitz” of the remote Oyacachi basin, Ecuador, way back in 2012.

Tropical mountains are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems of the world, but the causes of this exceptional species richness have eluded biologists for centuries. In 1967, Dan Janzen postulated that reduced temperature seasonality in the tropics compared to the temperate zone should cause tropical species to evolve narrower thermal tolerances and lower dispersal abilities than temperate species. If true, the implication is that tropical species should have lower gene flow, greater population structure, and higher speciation rates than temperate species. In our recently published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) paper, we integrate physiological, genomic, and phylogenetic analyses to test Janzen’s “Mountain Passes are Higher in the Tropics” Hypothesis in stream insects in Colorado and Ecuador, and find strong support for it. This paper represents 7 years and countless hours of hard work in the field, lab, and in front of the computer by 17 coauthors and several field and lab assistants, as part of our NSF EvoTRAC project on vulnerability of stream insects to climate change. Funk Lab members on the paper included Nick Polato, Brian Gill, Alisha Shah, and W. Chris Funk. A non-technical summary of our findings written by Anne Manning from the CSU College of Natural Sciences can be found here.

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