Portrait Photograph of Warren Porter

Warren Porter

Emeritus Professor of Integrative Biology, Ardath and Robert Rodale Prof. of Environmental Toxicology

College of Letters & Science l Department of Integrative Biology

Hometown: Madison, WI

Warren Porter has a deep Wisconsin heritage, since he was born in Madison two blocks from where he works. His parents came from Green Bay in the north and from a farm that had land bought from Daniel Webster before the Civil War, 20 miles southeast of Madison. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the UW Madison while playing tuba in the marching band for four years. His Masters and PhD were from UCLA, before he began a two-year postdoctoral fellowship with a physicist-turned-botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Washington University in St. Louis. He then came back to Madison as a new assistant professor and has been here ever since–teaching, taking courses, and doing interdisciplinary research.


Climate Change Impacts on Wild and Domestic Animals

Warren Porter has developed and tested generic microclimate and animal computer models of climate effects on animal food and water requirements, behavior, distribution and habitat use in ancient, modern and future climates. They have computed milk production anywhere on Earth, evolutionary selection forces on dinosaurs and mosquito disease transmission.

Subtle Biological Effects of Low Level Environmental Contaminants

For several decades Warren Porter has studied how off-the-shelf pesticides and other environmental chemicals impact neurological, endocrine, immune and epigenetic phenomena in animals and humans. This talk summarizes international peer-reviewed research literature and his own peer-reviewed research about the subtle but significant impacts on long-term health.

Global Climate Change Impacts on Cows
We use state-of-the-art computer models we have developed for microclimates and cows to look at effects of latitude, body size, coat color, timing of calving, and many other interconnected variables to look at global constraints on capacity for milk production, food and water needs for dairy cows.
Pesticides and Health
We explore multiple subtle effects of pesticides at very low concentrations that impact health and development at multiple levels of biological organization from molecular to population dynamics.
Climate Change Impacts on Wisconsin and Global Milk Production

Climate change is causing an increase in temperatures, humidities and winds, and consequently, animals are increasingly subject to heat stress, which causes reductions in feed intake, efficiency, growth, reproduction and milk and meat production. We have developed and broadly field-tested a state-of-the-art microclimate-animal computer model, Dairy Niche Mapper, that calculates how climate and animal variables interact to affect milk production, metabolic rate, feed consumption and water needs at any geographic location. There are combinations of climate variables that cause reproductive (milk production) failures. Their effects can appear suddenly once critical thresholds are reached. We can identify those thresholds of interacting climate variables and how to mitigate them. We are understanding how and where current and future monthly latitudinal climate change will impact milk production and feed and water needs in dairy cows of different sizes and colors, in barns or pastures, consuming high-grain or high-forage diets. We illustrate this capability using three arbitrary north latitudes, 12°, 30° and 60°, for North and Central America and Asia. We can also do this for the southern hemisphere.

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