Photo of William Karasov, PhDProfessor in Forest & Wildlife Ecology


Link to Lab

226 Russell Labs

Research Interests:Physiological ecology
 of terrestrial vertebrates, particularly the ecological implications of how they process energy, nutrients, and toxins.

Dr. Karasov is a legacy faculty member of MET. At present, a suitable successor to Dr. Karasov’s research program is currently being looked at by University entities.


Nutritional Ecology–The relationships between the nutrient requirements of animals and the nutritional value of their food resources potentially affect diet selection, productivity, and survival. Professor Karasov and his students have performed laboratory and field studies on the nutritional ecology of several species of mammals and birds in order to explore the significance of nutrition in their ecology. This work includes studies of how antiherbivory chemicals in plants affect food selection, digestion, physiology, and population biology of herbivores.

Adaptation of digestion and intestinal nutrient absorption–Vertebrates differ considerably in the types of foods that they consume, but little is known of the physiological adaptations required for effective utilization of alternate food types. Professor Karasov and his students are studying the digestive physiology of animals with different dietary habits (such as carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, frugivores, and nectarivores) and also how intestinal nutrient absorption is regulated over the short-term (i.e., within a species) and between species (i.e., over evolutionary time).

Energetics of animal foraging–All organisms need energy, and many activities of animals are centered around how to get, process it, and conserve it. Professor Karasov and his students are studying the energetics of free-living animals using doubly labeled water, micrometeorology, telemetry, and direct observation of behavior. They are documenting the physical, physiological, and behavioral factors which affect energy intake and expenditure, and the relationships between foraging behavior and reproductive success.

Wildlife Toxicology–Animals living in or feeding from the Great Lakes are exposed to a number of pollutants, notably polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins. Professor Karasov and his students are participating in studies to determine the level of exposure of fish-eating birds and amphibians, and whether the exposure causes physiological and behavioral disfunction and effects on population biology.

  • McWhorter TJ, Bakken BH, Karasov WH, del Rio CM. Hummingbirds rely on both paracellular and carrier-mediated intestinal glucose absorption to fuel high metabolism. Biol Lett. 2006 Mar 22;2(1):131-4. PMID: 17148346
  • Fassbinder-Orth CA, Karasov WH. Effects of feed restriction and realimentation on digestive and immune function in the Leghorn chick. Poult Sci. 2006 Aug;85(8):1449-56.
  • Green AK, Haley SL, Barnes DM, Dearing MD, Karasov WH. Is alpha-pinene a substrate for permeability-glycoprotein in wood rats? J Chem Ecol. 2006 Jun;32(6):1197-211. Epub 2006 May 23.
  • Green AK, Haley SL, Barnes DM, Dearing MD, Karasov WH. Is alpha-Pinene a Substrate for Permeability-Glycoprotein in Wood Rats? J Chem Ecol. 2006 May 23
  • Chen TH, Gross JA, Karasov WH. Sublethal effects of lead on northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) tadpoles. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2006 May;25(5):1383-9.
Mentor to METC Graduate Students:
  • Cherry (Ying-Tang) Tsai (current), Jeff Lorch (2012),
  • John Allran (Masters-1999), Jill Larson (Masters-1991)
Mentor to METC Post-Doc:
  • Walter Jakubas (1989)