Tarleton professors lead A&M system team in grassland project

Special to the E-T

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — A pair of Tarleton State University professors heading an interdisciplinary team of researchers from across The Texas A&M University System were highlighted in a recent Agrilife Today online presentation.

Dr. Darrel Murray and Dr. Adam Mitchell are lead investigators in a research, education and outreach program relating to grassland revitalization in Texas, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The partnership has been in development since 2014 and evolved out of a proposal to merge disciplines in ecology, management, conservation, engineering, political science, economics and social sciences to address knowledge gaps pertaining to ecosystem-scale land management decisions.

“The common thread in our work is grassland research,” Murray said. “However, each of us brings different experience, skills and perspectives that will enable us to conduct research relating to topics identified as top priorities of landowners and grassland managers in Texas.”

The research will focus on developing innovative approaches to revitalizing, managing and conserving land to uniquely solve modern landowners’ issues and meet their needs while contributing to society.

Murray said projects like this promote the A&M System’s role in helping solve societal issues as a public institution. “With a large urban and suburban population in Texas, we want to remind everyone of the connection and value of surrounding grasslands.”

Another key component of the USDA grant-funded project is to provide high-impact learning opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, specifically those who might be underrepresented in these fields as professionals.

“This program will leverage ongoing grassland research by facilitating coordination among partners,” Murray said. “It also will increase the capacity of TAMU system institutions to recruit, retain and educate a diverse population of graduate and undergraduate students in agriculture and natural resource programs.”

Others on the team are Dr. Caitlyn Cooper, AgriLife Research, Vernon; William Fox, AgriLife Research, Temple; Jeff Brady, AgriLife Research, Stephenville; and Cameron Barlow, BRIT, Fort Worth.

Plans are in place to begin research and phase one of the three-year project in the fall.

For more information on Texas A&M’s role in the Restore Texas Grassland Revitalization Partnership, email Fox at w-fox@tamu.edu.