Position title: Professor Emeritus
207 Integrative Biology Research Building
- Research Areas
- Bioinformatics, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution
Our current research focuses on two questions:
1) How does animal size and shape influence energetics, behavior, ecology, evolution and distribution in the climate crises of the past, present and future?
2) How do environmental contaminants including pesticides modify biological processes at multiple levels of organization?
Our laboratory with the help of many other talented collaborators has developed and field-tested software, e.g. Niche Mapper™, to address these questions for representatives of all the modern major classes of vertebrates and selected invertebrates on land and at sea, e.g. ((Porter, Mitchell et al. 1973, Kearney, Porter et al. 2009, Bartelt, Klaver et al. 2010, Porter, Ostrowski et al. 2010, Fitzpatrick, Mathewson et al. 2015, Dudley, Bonazza et al. 2016)).
In the last decade we have added digital 3D imagery, animation and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to rapidly and inexpensively create detailed 3D models of elephants, leatherbacks and fiddler crabs and how they in interact with their environments, which are the boundary conditions that drive their form, function and reproductive success. Now that we have robust models well vetted from modern animals, we are exploring ancient times and future times of climate crises to understand how very different climate patterns modulate animal form and function. ((Mathewson, Moyer‐Horner et al. 2016, Wang, Porter et al. 2018)).
Environmental contaminants can modify biological processes at all levels of organization from molecular to ecosystems and do it at incredibly tiny concentrations (ppt-ppq) that affect epigenetics, the gut microbiome, neurological, endocrine and immune functions and higher level effects including sexual behavior and reproductive success. Thanks to the very special talents of Dr. Fariba Assadi-Porter, who has developed novel platforms for assessing these effects, we are integrating models connecting contaminant effects with organismal functions using mechanistic approaches.
- Bartelt, P. E., R. W. Klaver and W. P. Porter (2010). “Modeling amphibian energetics, habitat suitability, and movements of western toad, Anaxyrus (= Bufo) boreas, across present and future landscapes.” Ecological Modelling 221(22): 2675-2686. https://usgs-cru-individual-data.s3.amazonaws.com/bklaver/intellcont/Bartelt%20et%20al%20Ecological%20Modelling%202010-2.pdf
- Dudley, P. N., R. Bonazza and W. P. Porter (2016). “Climate change impacts on nesting and internesting leatherback sea turtles using 3D animated computational fluid dynamics and finite volume heat transfer.” Ecological Modelling 320: 231-240. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283685939_Climate_change_impacts_on_nesting_and_internesting_leatherback_sea_turtles_using_3D_animated_computational_fluid_dynamics_and_finite_volume_heat_transfer
- Fitzpatrick, M. J., P. D. Mathewson and W. P. Porter (2015). “Validation of a mechanistic model for non-Invasive study of ecological energetics in an endangered wading bird with counter-current heat exchange in its legs.” PloS one 10(8): e0136677. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26308207
- Kearney, M., W. P. Porter, C. Williams, S. Ritchie and A. A. Hoffmann (2009). “Integrating biophysical models and evolutionary theory to predict climatic impacts on species’ ranges: the dengue mosquito Aedes aegypti in Australia.” Functional Ecology 23(3): 528-538. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01538.x
- Mathewson, P. D., L. Moyer‐Horner, E. A. Beever, N. J. Briscoe, M. Kearney, J. M. Yahn and W. P. Porter (2016). “Mechanistic variables can enhance predictive models of endotherm distributions: the American pika under current, past, and future climates.” Global Change Biology 23(3): 1048-1064. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27500587
- Porter, W., S. Ostrowski and J. Williams (2010). “Modeling animal landscapes.” Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 83(5): 705-712. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/656181
- Porter, W. P., J. W. Mitchell, W. A. Beckman and C. B. DeWitt (1973). “Behavioral implications of mechanistic ecology.” Oecologia 13(1): 1-54. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28307981
- Wang, Y., W. Porter, P. D. Mathewson, P. A. Miller, R. W. Graham and J. W. Williams (2018). “Mechanistic modeling of environmental drivers of woolly mammoth carrying capacity declines on St. Paul Island.” Ecology 99(12): 2721-2730. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30365160