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1 July 2010 In Memoriam: Carl D. Marti, 1944–2010
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Carl D. Marti, 1944–2010


Carl Darrell Marti died at home in Boise, Idaho, shortly before midnight on 12 April 2010, only five months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Carl was born in Warrensburg, Missouri, on 10 July 1944 and grew up in Tarkio, Missouri. A third-generation graduate of Tarkio College, he obtained a B.A. in Biology in 1966. He received his M.S. (1968) and Ph.D. (1970) from Colorado State University. Carl's dissertation work concerned the feeding ecology of four sympatric owls on the prairies of Colorado. He joined the Biology Department at Tarkio College after he finished his Ph.D., but in 1971 he accepted a position in the Zoology Department at Weber State University (WSU) in Ogden, Utah, where he remained until he retired in 1999. He and his wife, Margaret, then relocated to Boise, where Carl became an adjunct professor for the Raptor Research Center at Boise State University and did consulting, writing, and editing.

Carl joined the AOU in 1968 and became an Elective Member in 1985 and a Fellow in 2006. Despite having no opportunity to advise graduate students at WSU, he maintained a vigorous research program throughout his career. Equally important, he was instrumental in developing research-based learning among undergraduates at WSU. Carl was an associate editor for the Journal of Raptor Research (1987–1991) and then its editor-in-chief (1993–1996). He served The Auk as book review editor (1996–1999) and then as an associate editor (2000–2004). He was editor-in-chief of Studies in Avian Biology from 2004 to 2010, and Web master for the Raptor Research Foundation (RRF) and the Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) until his illness prevented him from working at a computer. In 2009, he received the Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom Award from the RRF in recognition of his long-term research on Barn Owls and raptor feeding ecology and was made an honorary member of the COS in 2010. He also received the Utah Governor's Medal for Science in 1988, was named an Outstanding Alumnus (with Margaret) at Tarkio College in 1991, and was honored with the Outstanding Scholarship Award at WSU in 1993.

Marks first met Carl in 1979 at the Snake River Birds of Prey Area in Idaho, where Carl had initiated a study of Barn Owls to compare with his work in Utah. Carl was especially helpful in discussing owl biology as Marks planned his master's study of Long-eared Owls that would begin the next year. In the succeeding decades, he was a great friend and colleague who always had time to comment on manuscripts and who provided unique assistance—for example, computer programs he had written to analyze food-niche metrics and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of army-surplus motion-sickness bags that were used to store owl pellets in the field. At a meeting they attended together, Carl and Marks signed up to write Birds of North America (BNA) accounts for the Barn Owl and Long-eared Owl, respectively. In typical style, Carl took this commitment seriously, and in due course he completed the very first BNA account. Two years after Carl's account appeared, and with the aid of two co-authors, Marks delivered the Long-eared Owl account.

Jaskić first met Carl in 1981 in Salt Lake City. He had driven from California to meet the man who had influenced his graduate research at Berkeley and try to persuade Carl to extend his studies to South America with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Carl was the perfect collaborator, for he had singlehandedly initiated community-ecology studies of owls that laid the theoretical foundations for understanding how coexisting raptor species exploit limited resources. His papers from the early 1970s continue to be cited, which attests to the currency of his pioneering insights. Carl also established rigorous methods for studying raptor community ecology. This was no small accomplishment, given that ecologists often divide neatly into pure theoreticians versus down-to-earth empiricists. Carl valued both approaches and understood that without a theoretical foundation there was no science, and without empirical evidence there was nothing but speculation.

In the early 1980s, Carl headed up the first U.S.—Chilean ecological study conducted under the auspices of the NSF's Science in Developing Countries (SDC) Program. The project not only allowed exchange of scholars between Ogden and Santiago, it enhanced communication between scientists and graduate students in both countries. On the basis of this positive experience, in the mid-1980s Carl and Jaskić convened in Chile a successful ecological meeting funded by the SDC Program. Eight U.S. ecologists (including Jim Brown, Peter Feinsinger, Jane Lubchenco, Bob Paine, Eric Pianka, and Fred Wagner) met with the same number of South American scientists to evaluate the state of studies of species' interactions among trophic levels and to discuss where such research was headed. About 100 people, including academics and students from three South American countries, attended. This meeting, and the ensuing proceedings that appeared in Revista Chilena de Historia Natural in 1987, profoundly influenced the development of ecological research in South America. Carl's willingness to reach out to peers and students who did not use English was shown as he studied hard to deliver in Spanish a lecture on raptor ecomorphology at a meeting he and Jaskić convened in Chile.

Carl was a quiet, unassuming, and highly capable scientist who readily helped students and colleagues and who worked tirelessly for the professional societies to which he belonged. He was in high demand as a manuscript reviewer, and his editorial work for the RRF, COS, and AOU spanned more than two decades. His professional publications, editorial work, and collaborations in Chile and elsewhere established his influence on the literature devoted to owls and raptor feeding ecology. Carl also was deeply committed to his family and to reducing his negative influence on the environment. A firm believer in non-motorized conveyance and public transportation, he walked, biked, or rode a bus whenever possible. Carl is survived by Margaret (to whom he was married for 43 years), his sons Nathan and Mitchell, his mother Elizabeth Cunningham Marti, and his sister Janet Marti Cook. His twin grandchildren, who were born to Nathan and Caroline Marti three months after Carl died, have been deprived of a wonderful paternal grandfather. Carl will be remembered by his friends and colleagues for the dignity, competence, and calm demeanor that came to him so effortlessly.

© 2010 by The American Ornithologists' Union. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website,
Jeffrey S. Marks and Fabian M. Jaksić "In Memoriam: Carl D. Marti, 1944–2010," The Auk 127(3), 709-710, (1 July 2010).
Published: 1 July 2010

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