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.



Courses taught

BZ 349 – Tropical Ecology & Evolution (3 credits; taught in fall semester in odd years [e.g., 2013, 2015, etc.])

Course Overview: Broad introduction to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine tropical biodiversity and the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate and maintain this diversity. Students will know differences and similarities between tropical and temperate patterns of diversity and ecological and evolutionary processes; be able to provide examples of the latitudinal diversity gradient; know the hypotheses for the latitudinal diversity gradient and be able to critically evaluate these hypotheses; be familiar with the types of organisms that inhabit different tropical ecosystems on different continents; understand the threats facing the tropics and the importance of tropical rainforests and other tropical ecosystems for global sustainability.



BZ 425/525 – Molecular Ecology (undergrad section [425]: 3 credits; grad section [525]: 4 credits; taught in fall semester in even years [e.g., 2014, 2016, etc.])

Course Overview: Molecular ecology employs molecular genetic tools to answer questions about populations and communities. Studies in molecular ecology often assay neutral genetic variation to draw inferences about topics as diverse as kinship, population subdivision, and community assembly. Increasingly, molecular ecologists examine adaptive genetic variation directly, for example through genome scans and studies of gene expression across environments. This course will provide a broad introduction to the use of molecular markers to address questions in ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation. We will begin by learning about genetic variation and basic population genetic principles, then we will delve into the applications of genetic markers for understanding relatedness, population and community structure, and conservation of biodiversity. Finally, we will discuss practical issues that arise when applying and interpreting molecular approaches in ecology. The course is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. The format will be lectures and discussion.



BZ 449A – Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation of Ecuadorian Biodiversity (4 credits; taught next in January 2019)

Course Overview: This course will be offered during a winter study abroad experience in Ecuador. This course will provide students with first-hand exposure to the unparalleled biodiversity of Ecuador. Ecuador is an ideal location to learn about tropical biodiversity, because it houses an enormous diversity of tropical ecosystems in a relatively small geographic area, all of which are very accessible. Students will visit many of these diverse ecosystems—including cloud forest, páramo, and lowland Amazonian rainforest habitats—and learn how to conduct ecological research along the way. Guest lectures from several tropical biologists will expose them to fascinating natural history, ecology, and evolutionary history of tropical organisms, as well as the complex conservation threats they face and potential solutions. Course details and information on registration can be found on the CSU StudyAbroad website brochure for the course.