Graduate student takes cross-country road trip for research.
In the summer and winter of 2017, Jeff Martin, Ph.D. packed up his Subaru and hit the open road, traveling 19,000 miles from Texas to Saskatchewan, Canada to capture heat flux of bison using thermal imaging technology. Using images of hundreds of animals of multiple ages, Martin was able to record and track the growth of bison from 19 different herds over multiple growing seasons for his dissertation.
Martin recently graduated from the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences program. He worked with Perry Barboza, Ph.D. as a Boone and Crockett Fellow. Over the past four years of his doctoral program, Martin has researched drivers of body size change in bison, through funding from the Boone and Crockett Club endowment at Texas A&M and Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Treading in familiar territory
Martin’s interest in bison began long before he started his doctoral program. Growing up on a bison ranch, he learned a thing or two about the species that continues to pique his interest still today.
“I’ve become familiar with the animal over the last 21 years and I’ve worked with them all over the country—from Saskatchewan to Texas to Wisconsin, New Mexico and California,” Martin said. “I’ve always had an interest in bison and how to manage them better, which is really what led me to where I am now.”
An active member of the National Bison Association, Martin said he spent his time at the national conference listening to the needs and problems being voiced by the bison producers, public land managers and NGOs around him.
These conversations provided him with lasting industry connections, like Donnis Baggett, past president of the Texas Bison Association and current president of the National Bison Association.
“It was exciting to see a brilliant young scientist so passionate about the study of bison,” Baggett said.
Looking toward the future
Martin has since completed his dissertation and published several articles, outlining his findings.
Earlier articles, published in Ecology and Evolution, discussed the effects of climate change and decadal heat and drought on bison body size. The latest paper, which focused on thermal biology and growth rates of bison, was published in Ecosphere in June.
In addition to publishing in scientific journals, Jeff provided summaries of his research to various industry organizations and was featured by The Wildlife Society.
Baggett said that Jeff’s research is an asset to the bison industry and contributes important information about future conservation of the animal.
“Speaking for the NBA membership as a whole, we’re proud of what Jeff’s accomplished and we’re looking forward to what his future work will mean for our industry.”
Moving forward in his career, Martin plans to continue his work with bison to connect public and private entities, tribal groups, zoos and NGOs to promote the sustained restoration of the North American Bison.
Even if it means traveling another 19,000 miles to do it.
To learn more about the Boone and Crockett Program at Texas A&M, which enabled Jeff to travel and complete his research on bison, visit https://rwfm.tamu.edu/science-to-policy/
For more information about this research, email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.