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.

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Courses taught

BZ 525 – Advanced Conservation and Evolutionary Genomics (4 credits; taught in fall semester in odd years [e.g., 2019, 2021, etc.])

Course Overview: Conservation and evolutionary biologists are increasingly using genomic tools to answer questions about species, populations, and communities. Studies in these areas often assay neutral genetic variation to draw inferences about effective population size, population subdivision, patterns of genetic variation, hybridization, species identity, and community assembly. Increasingly, conservation and evolutionary geneticists examine adaptive genetic variation directly, for example through genome scans. This course will provide a broad introduction to the use of genomic data to address questions in ecology, evolution, behavior, and conservation. Students will learn about evolutionary processes that affect genetic variation in natural populations and the strengths and weaknesses of different genomic approaches and analyses for addressing questions. The course is designed for graduate students. The format will be lectures, active learning exercises, and discussion of the primary literature.

BZ 349 – Tropical Ecology & Evolution (3 credits; taught in fall semester in odd years [e.g., 2019, 2021, 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 449A – Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation of Ecuadorian Biodiversity (4 credits; taught next in January 2022)

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, lowland Amazonian rainforest, and the famous Galápagos Islands—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.