Photo of Warren Porter, PhDProfessor in Zoology

608/262-1719; 608/262-0029

207 Zoology Research

Research Interests: Effects of low-level contaminant/pesticide mixtures on developmental processes, neurological function , immune function, and endocrine function.


This past year has been an exceptional one for our lab in all three areas of our research.

Modeling Animal Landscapes:
We have 15 major papers published, accepted or in press in this area of our research in 2009. These papers collectively document our ability to calculate using our patented trait based mechanistic models (Niche Mapper™) past, present and future distributions, rates of invasion, migration times, habitat use, movement patterns and climate change impacts on capacity to reproduce and survive as a species for representative amphibians, reptiles, diving cormorant energetics and behavior from Green Bay, Wisconsin to the Mississippi Delta, the full-size range of Australian lizards, two small pelagic seabirds in the North Atlantic, a review on mechanistic niche modeling, a review on Macro- ecology; a conceptual reunification, and in the case of the dengue fever mosquito, /Aedes aegypti/, in Australia the capacity for evolution of the mosquito to evolve in the context of climate change. The second PNAS paper resolves a long standing dispute over what slope the mouse-to-elephant metabolic rate as a function of body size really is. A paper on the first mechanistic link between butterfly phenology changes and anthropogenic climate change just came out and for the second time this year our work made Nature’s or Science’s research highlights. I am the founder of an off campus company, ANIMAPS.US, to make Niche Mapper™ commercially available.

Subtle Biological Effects of Environmental Contaminants:
We have 2 papers published, one in review in this area of our research into 2009. The papers describe and test 1) insecticide immune suppression in birds enhancing their vulnerability to West Nile virus. 2) a common pesticide in fruits and vegetables that shows up in children’s urine that can alter learning abilities in female but not male mice at similar concentrations. 3) a common herbicide/fertilizer combination in surface and ground waters that suppresses learning abilities at environmentally relevant concentrations in mice.

Early detection of infectious disease:
We have 1 new paper published and one in review in this area of our research this year. The first paper demonstrates our ability to detect onset of infection by our patented no doping stable isotope breath technology within two hours of the administration of the infection. Our new state-of-the-art technologies can detect isotopic ratio changes in breath due to catabolic events from a single sample or on a continuous, noninvasive flow-through basis. This will have immense benefits in intensive care and neonatal premature infants units and many other applications. The second paper with Dr. Fariba Assadi-Porter as lead author documents our ability to define, using a suite of patented biomarkers, the /stages/ of an infectious process and our ability to compensate for inter-individual variation in response. None of this has ever been done before. We have one patent and three new patent applications pending or in process covering our research discoveries. I am a founder of an off-campus company, Isomark, LLC, that may license and develop commercial applications as it sees fit. However, all fundamental research is done exclusively through our research group and patented through WARF.

  • Kearney, M. and W.P. Porter. 2004. Mapping the fundamental niche: physiology, climate, and distribution of Australian nocturnal lizards. Ecology. 85(11): 3119-3131.
  • Kilpatrick, A.M, W.A. Mitchell, W.P. Porter, and D.J. Currie. 2006. Testing a mechanistic explanation for the latitudinal gradient in mammalian species diversity. Evol. Ecol. Res. 8(2):333-344.
  • Porter, W.P., N.P. Vakharia, W.D. Klousie and D. Duffy. 2006. Po’ouli landscape bioinformatics models predict energetics, behavior, diets and distribution on Maui. Int. Comp. Biol. 1-16. on line doi:10.1093/icb/icl051
  • Natori, Y. and W.P. Porter. 2006. Habitat Evaluation for the Japanese Serow (Capricornis crispus) by Energetics Landscape Modeling. Ecol. Appl. (in press).
  • Meadows, S., W. P. Porter and S. Craven. 2007. Spatially Explicit Microclimate and Biophysical Models Calculate the Cumulative Intake of Organochlorine Contaminants by Breeding Double-Crested Cormorants in Southern Green Bay, WI. Env. Toxicol. and Chem.
Mentor to METC Graduate Students: 
  • Javier Velasco (Current), Mark Jankowski (2007).
  • Maria Cavieres (MS 1999), Cynthia Boyd (MS 1988).