Warren Porter

Email: wpporter@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-1719

207 Integrative Biology Research Building

Research Areas
Bioinformatics, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution
Warren Porter Headshot


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.