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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Channel Islands song sparrows

Channel Islands song sparrow (Melospiza melodia graminea). Photo credit: Maybellene Gamboa

An important consideration when re-establishing an extirpated population is assuring that the source population is adapted to the target environment. Genomics can elucidate patterns of adaptive differentiation, and therefore has the potential to help identify the most appropriate source for re-introduction. The U.S. National Park Service is proposing to re-introduce Channel Islands song sparrows (Melospiza melodia graminea) to Santa Barbara Island off the coast of southern California, where the local population went extinct in the early 1960s. Potential sources include extant populations on three northern Channel Islands, which vary dramatically in temperature. To inform the best source for this reintroduction, we are testing: (1) whether song sparrows on these islands are genetically differentiated; (2) whether they are adapted to the local climate; and (3) if so, which source population is best matched to the current and projected future climatic conditions on Santa Barbara Island. PhD candidate Maybellene Gamboa (co-advised by Cameron Ghalambor and Chris) is leading this project. Collaborators include Cameron Ghalambor (CSU), T. Scott Sillett (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center), and Scott Morrison (TNC California).