Russell Benford

Assistant Research Professor
Phone: 928-523-1355
Office: Building 21, Room 337

Research/teaching interests

  • behavioral ecology
  • conservation biology
  • wildlife management

Academic highlights

  • Assistant Research Professor, Northern Arizona University
  • PhD: 2008, Animal Behavior and Evolutionary ecology, Northern Arizona University 
  • MS: 2001, Cognitive science education, Arizona State University
  • BS: 1998, Wildlife ecology and Management, Arizona State University

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I am a behavioral ecologist interested in the conservation and management of terrestrial wildlife. I use observational (mark-recapture and radio telemetry) and molecular techniques to better understand the dispersal and migratory habits, landscape and habitat use, genetic structure, and social organization of free-living birds and mammals. Current and past funding for my research comes from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Science Foundation.

My students and I currently study threatened and endangered island endemic species in the Western Pacific. We are particularly interested in the causes of decline and the genetic integrity of geographically isolated populations that are affected by human activity. We have performed similar research on the population organization, movement patterns, and habitat use of pinyon jays, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain elk in Northern Arizona. Knowledge gained from our research is used to inform management and conservation strategies.  

Selected publications

Sprague, S.C., Theimer, T.C., Benford, R., Gagnon, J.W., and Schweinsberg, R.E. In preparation. Highways are barriers to gene flow in northern Arizona pronghorn (Antilocapra americana).Target journal: Conservation Biology.

Benford, R., Shuster, S.M., Harter, L.B., Gao, S., and Balda, R.P. In preparation. Ecologically-induced selection for phenotypic, genetic, and social characteristics of pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). Target journal: Evolution.

Benford, R., Nunes, C., Meneses, N., and Balda, R.P. In preparation. Population biology and social organization of pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). Target journal: The Auk.

Benford, R., Barber, M., and Balda, R.P. In preparation. Symmetrical parental investment justifies monogamy in pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). Target journal: Animal Behaviour.

Benford, R., Kamil, A.C., and Balda, R.P. In preparation. Differential fitness for innovation and social learning skills in pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). Target journal: Animal Behaviour.

Benford, R.. 2008. Molecular and evolutionary ecology of the pinyon jay.  Doctoral dissertation, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. ProQuest. Web. 31.

Busch, J.D., Benford, R., Pearson, T., Palmer, E., Balda, R.P., and Keim, P. 2008. Development of polymorphic tetranucleotide microsatellites for pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). Conservation Genetics. DOI 10.1007/s10592-008-9616-z.

Adamson, S.L., Burtch, M., Cox III, F., Judson, E., Turley, J.B., Benford, R., and Lawson, A.E. 2003. Reformed undergraduate instruction and its subsequent impact on secondary school teaching practice and student achievement. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40(10), 939-957.

Lawson, A.E., Benford, R., Bloom, I., Carlson, M.P., Falconer, K., Hestenes, D., Judson, E., Piburn, M.D., Sawada, D., Turley, J., and Wykoff, S., 2002. Evaluating college mathematics and science instruction. Journal of College Science Teaching 31(6), 388-393.

Sawada, D., Piburn, M.D., Judson, E., Turley, J., Falconer, K., Benford, R., Bloom, I. 2002. Measuring reform practices in science and mathematics classrooms: the reformed teaching observation protocol. School Science and Mathematics 102(6), 245-253.

Benford, R. 2001. Relationships between scientific thinking skills and the effective use of inquiry. M.S. Thesis, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. ERIC Accession Number: ED456157.

Lawson, A.E., Alkhoury, S., Benford, R., Clark, B.R., and Falconer, K.A., 2000. What kinds of scientific concepts exist? Concept construction and intellectual development in college biology. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(9), 996-1018.


Full curriculum vitae