Birds were dying on an island off the coast of Florida, and people didnt know why. A group of conservationists wondered if the culprit might be a pesticide sprayed into the air to wipe out mosquitoes. The explanation quickly came from an unlikely source in Wisconsin.
For several years, Warren Porter, a professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been working with faculty and staff across campus to develop a computer model that could predict how animals, living on a real landscape anywhere on Earth, would respond to specific changes in the environment. The model could answer questions, such as how warmer temperatures would alter the activity patterns of squirrels in southern California or how removing the forest canopy in Yellowstone National Park would affect the elk that took cover under it during winter.
"If we fail to answer questions like these, we will continue to lose species - and their genomes, the biological libraries that have accumulated information for billions of years - from this planet," says Porter.
Warren Porter | EurekAlert!
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