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.




Ecuadorian cloud forest stream. Photo credit: W. Chris Funk

The goal of this project, which we call “EvoTRAC” (Evolutionary and Ecological Variability in Organismal Trait Response with Altitude and Climate), is to experimentally quantify mechanisms of species and ecosystem sensitivity to warming and increased variation in precipitation, focusing on insects (mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies) in small streams in the Colorado Rockies and the Ecuadorian Andes. Theory predicts tropical stream species 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). We are testing this prediction by measuring the physiological tolerance of species to warming. We are also discovering new species and assessing the ability of species to move between streams as climate changes using landscape genomic techniques. Our ultimate goal is to provide a novel, integrative model for predicting species and stream ecosystem responses to climate shifts. Collaborators on this project include LeRoy Poff (CSU), Cameron Ghalambor (CSU), Boris Kondratieff (CSU), Alisha Shah (University of Montana), Brian Gill (Brown University), Kelly Zamudio (Cornell University), Alex Flecker (Cornell University), Steve Thomas (University of Nebraska), Andrea Encalada (Universidad San Francisco de Quito [USFQ]), and Juan Guayasamin (USFQ).