Dr. Storfer uses a combination of molecular genetic tools, laboratory experiments and field experiments to investigate species’ range limits. Biodiversity research in general requires a two-pronged approach - studying the factors that contribute to patterns of diversity and those that constrain species’ ranges. The latter is particularly important as an increasing number of the world’s fauna become threatened or endangered. Amphibians are a group of taxa generally thought to be declining globally, and thus, human activities may further constrict species’ ranges.
Dr. Storfer's lab currently has two focal research areas. The first is on phylogeography, landscape genetics, and life history dynamics of amphibians in the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwestern amphibians offer unique opportunities to compare species with highly restricted ranges with those that have much broader ranges. The second research emphasis is on effects of diseases on amphibian populations. Dr. Storfer is working to understand coevolutionary relationships of salamanders and viruses. Hosts and pathogens provide ever-changing environments for one another, creating a dynamic pattern of reciprocal selection that drives the coevolutionary process. Aside from humans and economically important species, little is known about how disease affects wildlife populations, but with emerging infectious diseases affecting both wildlife and humans, understanding the evolutionary dynamics of wildlife diseases is becoming increasingly important.