Contact Information


Dr. Porter teaches Advanced General Biology and upper-level courses in Vertebrate Anatomy, Ornithology and Stream Field Biology. His conservation biology research includes imperiled freshwater fishes and migratory songbirds, using both field and genetic methods. Dr. Porter received his BA in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in Zoology from The Ohio State University before conducting postdoctoral research at the University of Georgia in the Department of Genetics and the Institute of Ecology. He is the research coordinator for the Murphy’s Bottom Ecological Project, monitoring biodiversity at this former sand and gravel extraction site near Freeport, PA. He is currently the President of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey (PABS) and serves on the Fishes Technical Committee. Dr. Porter oversees monthly monitoring and analysis of 16 sites along the Allegheny River as part of the Three Rivers QUEST program; a network taking water chemistry data throughout the upper Ohio River System.


  • B.A. Zoology, Ohio Wesleyan University

  • Ph.D. Zoology, The Ohio State University

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Departments of Genetics and Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia

Research Interests

Genetics of Natural Populations, Evolution, Molecular Ecology of Fishes:

Research in the Porter Lab integrates natural history and molecular techniques to explore various aspects of aquatic organisms, particularly fishes. The focus encompasses phylogenetic relationships, phylogeography, hybridization, conservation genetics, and the evolution of mating systems within freshwater ecosystems of the Eastern United States. Utilizing both field and laboratory methods, projects employ morphological and molecular analyses, including meristic, morphometric, osteological, and pigment biochemistry assessments, as well as microsatellites and DNA sequencing. These approaches contribute to understanding the genetic diversity and population dynamics of threatened and endangered species, such as Etheostoma darters in the upper Ohio River watershed.

Monitoring efforts in this watershed have revealed the distribution patterns of Etheostoma darters, indicating their utilization of tailwater habitats below navigational lock and dam installations. Electrified-benthic trawling techniques have been instrumental in documenting their presence, with species like E. camurum and E. tippecanoe showing expansion throughout the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. However, the distribution of E. maculatum remains limited and requires ongoing monitoring. These findings have led to the removal of all three darter species from the Pennsylvania imperiled fishes list, highlighting the efficacy of trawling methods in surveying river-inhabiting darters. (  

In addition to distribution studies, the lab delves into the genetic and biochemical characterization of chromoprotein pigments found in darters. These pigments, crucial for camouflage, communication, and sexual selection, exhibit structural diversity across darter species. By investigating the genetic and functional properties of these pigments, particularly in the Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum), the research aims to enhance our understanding of pigment evolution in freshwater fishes.

Furthermore, the lab explores the impact of seasonal dietary shifts on avian gut microbiome communities, particularly during critical periods such as nesting/fledging and migration. Collaborative efforts involve banding birds in sustainable forest gaps to track dietary changes using fecal metabarcoding and stable isotope analyses. This multidisciplinary approach sheds light on how ecological and environmental factors influence avian gut microbiomes and facilitate energy demands during migration.

Profile Information


  1. Hoenig, B.D., J. Zegar, M.E.B. Ohmer, M.M Chess, B.A. Porter, M Madril, C.L. Richards-Zawacki 2023. FINDeM: A CRISPR-based, molecular method for rapid, inexpensive and field-deployable organism detection. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 2023(14): 3055-3067.
  2. Hoenig, B.D., B.K. Trevelline, S.C. Latta, and B.A. Porter 2022. Integrating DNA-based prey 
  3. occurrence probability into stable isotope mixing models. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 62(2): 211-222.
  4. Hoenig, B.D., B.K. Trevelline, A. Kautz, S.C. Latta, and B.A. Porter 2022. Two is better than one: Coupling DNA metabarcoding and stable isotope analysis improves dietary characterizations for a riparian-obligate, migratory songbird. Molecular Ecology 2022: 1-14. PMID: 36089910.
  5. Porter B., E. Dakin, S. Woodley and J. Stolz. 2022. A baseline ecological study of a tributary to Tenmile Creek Watershed in Southwest Pennsylvania in Environmental Impacts from the Development of Unconventional Oil and Gas Reserves J. Stolz, D. Bain and M. Griffin eds. Cambridge University Press. 
  6. Hoenig, B.D., A.M. Snider, A.M. Forsman, K.A. Hobson, S.C. Latta, E.T. Miller, M.J. Polito, L.L. Powell, S.L. Rogers, T.W. Sherry, D.P.L. Towers, A.J. Welch, S.S. Taylor, and B.A. Porter. 2021. Current methods and future directions in avian diet analysis. Special Feature: Advances in Avian Diet Methods and Applications. Ornithology. 139: 1-28.
  7. Hoenig, B.D., B.K. Trevelline, T. Nuttle, and B.A. Porter 2020. Dietary DNA metabarcoding reveals seasonal trophic changes among three syntopic freshwater trout species. Freshwater Biology. 2020:1-15. 
  8. Trevelline, B.K., T. Nuttle, B.A. Porter, N.L, Brouwer, B.D. Hoenig, Z.D. Steffensmeier, and S.C. Latta 2018. Stream acidification and reduced aquatic prey availability are associated with dietary shifts in an obligate riparian Neotropical migratory songbird. PeerJ. DOI10.7717/peerj.5141. PMID: 30002974.
  9. Trevelline, B, T. Nuttle, B.D. Hoenig, N.L. Brouwer, B.A. Porter, and S.C. Latta 2018. DNA metabarcoding of nestling feces reveals provisioning of aquatic prey and resource partitioning among Neotropical migratory songbirds in a riparian habitat. Oecologia. 187:85-98. PMID: 29616401.
  10. Honick, A.S., B.J. Zimmerman, J.R. Stauffer Jr., D.A. Argent, and B.A. Porter 2017. Expanded distributions of three Etheostoma darters (Subgenus Nothonotus) within the upper Ohio River Watershed. Northeastern Naturalist 24(2):209-234. 
  11. Porter, B.A., A.C. Fiumera, and J.C. Avise. 2002. Egg mimicry and allopaternal care: two mate attracting tactics by which nesting striped darter (Etheostoma virgatum) males enhance reproductive success. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 51:350-359.
  1. Duquesne University Bayer School of Natural & Environmental Sciences Award for Excellence in Service. 2020-2021
  2. Duquesne University Center for Student Involvement Award for Student Organization Advisor of the Year for the Duquesne University Ecology Club. 2016-2017.
  3. National Academies Summer Institute Fellow in Undergraduate STEM Education 2014-2015.
  1. Porter, B.A. Characterization of Blue and Green Biliverdin-Binding Protein Pigments in Darters. Duquesne University Faculty Development Fund. 2023-2025
  2. Porter, B.A. Electrofishing Surveys on Crooked Creek Lake. U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers- Crooked Creek Lake. 2023.
  3. Porter, B.A. Water Quality and Electrofishing Surveys of the Buffalo Creek System. PA Growing Greener Funds through the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. 2021-2023.
  4. Porter, B.A. & J. Stolz. Three Rivers Quest partner for Lower Allegheny River water quality  monitoring. West Virginia Water Resource Center. 2016-2023.