Current Ecology + Evolutionary Biology Faculty
My laboratory group works on the effects of fragmented and patchy populations in evolution, genetics, and ecology. Currently, we study the epidemiology of plague in natural populations of black-tailed prairie dogs and other small rodents on the short grass prairies of north-central Colorado, and are part of the Laramie Foothills Chronic Wasting Disease Project, where we study the genetics of CWD in mule deer in relation to spatial epidemiology and genetics http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/modelingCWD/.
My research group studies how people make meaning of natural science concepts through reading, writing, and speaking. We use discourse and communication theories to understand how undergraduate students identify and resolve misconceptions. Most of my research centers on writing-to-learn and writing-to-communicate during problem-based cooperative group activities.
The work in my laboratory centers on reproductive barriers between higher plant species, in particular between species of wild tomatoes. We are examining the molecular and cellular nature of inter-specific reproductive barriers (IRB).
The Funk Lab strives 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.
My research is focused on the empirical study of adaptation in natural populations. I am particularly interested in how trade-offs are resolved during the process of adaptive evolution in life history, behavioral, and physiological traits. We use a variety of field and lab techniques to test and develop theory while also striving to understand the natural history of the organisms we study.
My research focuses on plants with a goal of understanding ecological patterns and processes from the leaf to the ecosystem level. Research is conducted primarily in the field utilizing the comparative approach and experimental manipulations of key ecological drivers. Areas of interest include: plant physiological ecology, ecosystems ecology, climate change, long-term ecological research, invasive plant species, restoration ecology, fire and herbivory effects on communities and ecossytems.
I am interested in the evolutionary ecology of parasite-host interactions. I study the effects of parasites on animal behavior, as well as the effects of parasites on other parasites in communities. Currently, I'm especially intrigued by behavioral fever, and the fitness costs and benefits associated with shifting body temperature.
I am interested in three basic questions in evolutionary biology: (1) How do genomes evolve, particularly those at the extremes of genome size? (2) How do transposable elements shape genome biology and evolution? (3) How does genome size impact phenotype and the evolutionary trajectories of lineages?
I combine my interests in behavioral and cognitive ecology to understand the functioning of individuals and social groups. My research involves experimental work in behavior and physiology complemented by approaches based on individual based modeling.
I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in using a multidisciplinary approach to investigate how environmental variation and evolutionary processes converge to influence the patterns of demographic, genetic, and genomic variation in natural populations, especially those of conservation concern.
In the Pilon-Smits lab we are interested in processes by which plants accumulate and detoxify environmental pollutants, as well as in ecological and evolutionary aspects of selenium hyperaccumulation. We study these processes from the molecular level to the field. Our approaches include genomics, genetics, biotechnology, biochemistry, whole-plant physiology, and ecological studies. These studies are aimed to gain knowledge about basic biological processes, but have applications for the use of plants for environmental cleanup or as fortified foods.
My research interests are guided by the broad consideration of how ecological processes and patterns are constrained by habitat structure and environmental variability at multiple scales in aquatic ecosystems. Our results provide a basis for predicting aquatic community attributes at geographic scales and for ecological responses to land-use alterations and regional climate changes.
My research program consists of two interrelated components: phylogeny and taxonomy of the flowering-plant family Celastraceae (spindle-tree family), and conceptual aspects of molecular phylogenetics. Molecular phylogenetics uses genomic data (typically DNA sequences) to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among species. This field is playing an increasingly central role in biology, from inferring the diversification of multigene families, to tracking invasive species, conservation of protected species, as evidence in criminal investigations, and fighting bioterrorism.
My research investigates the evolutionary forces that create diversity in genome size, structure, and function. I am particularly interested in the evolution of so-called "resident genomes" that exist inside the cells of another organism, including those of mitochondria and plastids in eukaryotes and endosymbiotic bacteria in many insects. Much of my current work focuses on how these resident genomes co-evolve with the host genome.
My research focuses on understanding the consequences of human-caused global changes, especially the impacts of climatic changes, biological invasions, eutrophication (e.g., increased N deposition), and altered disturbance regimes for biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function. Within this context, my research addresses questions about the functional roles of species in ecosystems, the causes and impacts of loss and gain of genetic and species diversity, the factors that influence species coexistence and patterns of species abundance, and the relative strength of bottom-up (resources) vs. top-down (consumers) controls in structuring communities. My research employs a mixture of empirical approaches (observational, experimental, comparative and synthetic) and utilizes C4-dominated grasslands as experimentally tractable and dynamic model systems.
My interest's center on the ecological significance of plant form and structure. Topics of study in my laboratory include the following: patterns of shoot development, branching, and leaf placement in different environments; modular and clonal growth; and the conservation and population biology of rare plants.
My research focuses on soil ecology and how soil invertebrate biodiversity influences ecosystem processes. Experimental research in field and lab measures factors affecting distribution patterns of soil animals at small to global scales and their influence on above-belowground linkages. A key aspect is understanding how soil biodiversity contributes to long term sustainability of soil ecosystems.
My research focuses on how the interplay between ecological and evolutionary mechanisms affects the dynamics and persistence of ecological systems. We particularly focus on disease ecology and trait-based approaches in ecology and use quantitative techniques to address questions in these areas.