Dino J. Martins

Lecturer & Visiting Research Scholar
Trukana Basin Institute

Dr. Dino J. Martins is a Kenyan entomologist and evolutionary biologist, is currently the Chief Executive Officer at the Turkana Basin Institute and a Research Scholar and Lecturer in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University.

Dr. Martins’ current scientific research is focused on the evolution and ecology of interactions between species: insects and plants, vectors and hosts and parasites. Current research includes work with farmers in relation to bees and pesticides and improving pollinator awareness and conservation, general studies of bee evolution and ecology in East Africa, hawkmoth and butterfly pollination, co-evolution and the links between biodiversity and landscape-level processes. Dr Martins currently leads projects on the biology vectors for malaria, trachoma, leishmaniasis and other neglected tropical diseases in relation to adaptation to climate, landscape and environmental changes in the Turkana Basin and Greater Horn of Africa region. His work has been featured in the Smithsonian magazine, the Guardian, TED, the BBC as well as in National Geographic.

Communicating and celebrating biodiversity is one of Dr Martins passions and he has authored the ‘Insects of East Africa’, ‘Butterflies of East Africa’ (with S. Collins) and: ‘Our Friends the Pollinators: A Handbook of Pollinator Diversity and Conservation in East Africa. This book has been downloaded over 7000 times from the web and content accessed by hundreds of thousands of farmers through digital and social media platforms.

Dr. Martins is the 2015 Whitley Gold Award winner for conservation: (http://whitleyaward.org/winners/pollinators-and-people-in-kenya/). This is a grassroots global conservation prize awarded each year. The prize was awarded for his work on insects, and improving their conservation and understanding by farmers and the general public across East Africa.


Selected Publications

1.Boyle JH, Martins DJ, Pelaez J, Musili PM, Kibet S, Kimani-Ndung’u S, Kenfack D and NE Pierce . Polygyny does not explain the superior competitive ability of dominant ant associates in the African ant-plant, Acacia (Vachelliadrepanolobium. Ecology and Evolution 2017;00:1–10. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3752

2. Smith, D.A., Gordon, I.J., Traut, W., Herren, J., Collins, S., Martins, D.J., Saitoti, K. and Ireri, P., 2016, July. A neo-W chromosome in a tropical butterfly links colour pattern, male-killing, and speciation. In Proc. R. Soc. B (Vol. 283, No. 1835, p. 20160821). The Royal Society.

3. Martins, D.J. and Johnson, S.D., 2013. Interactions between hawkmoths and flowering plants in East Africa: polyphagy and evolutionary specialization in an ecological context. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society110(1), pp.199-213.

4. Martins, D.J., 2013. People, plants and pollinators: uniting conservation, food security, and sustainable agriculture in East Africa. Conservation Biology: Voices from the Tropics, pp.232-238.

5. Martins, D.J. and Johnson, S.D., 2007. Hawkmoth pollination of aerangoid orchids in Kenya, with special reference to nectar sugar concentration gradients in the floral spurs. American Journal of Botany94(4), pp.650-659.