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Global Conservation Priorities Grant Program

EarthWatch Institute

Grant amount: US $20,000 - US $80,000

Anticipated deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed

Applicant type: Postdoctoral Researcher Faculty Working Professional

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Preferred: South-Eastern Asia, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, New Zealand Other eligible locations: Anywhere in the world

Degree requirements: Applicants must have a completed PhD


Global Conservation Priorities Program

Human activities are causing a biodiversity crisis, with extinction rates up to 1000 times higher than background extinction. Extinction is eroding the ecosystem services upon which all life depends for well-being. This call for proposals focuses on research that takes action to prevent and address extinction, habitat loss, and reduction of ecosystem services (clean air and water, fertile soil, sustainable food production) in vulnerable locations. Some of the most vulnerable locations are characterized by a significant lack of science that has resulted in gaps in what we need to know in order to better manage and conserve their flora, fauna, and ecological processes. The location of and threats to biodiversity are distributed unevenly, so prioritization is essential to minimize biodiversity loss. 

Earthwatch seeks research proposals from scientists for projects that will address global change impacts on ecosystems by

  • Increasing scientific knowledge and public awareness of environmental challenges to species and their habitat, while providing locally relevant solutions
  • Increasing partnerships with grassroots organizations, as well as with governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at local and international levels
  • informing management plans and environmental policies 

Focal Global Conservation Priorities Program Topics

Earthwatch invites proposals for field-based research by qualified scientists on the following topics: 

  • Biodiversity conservation, including native species reintroductions and maintenance of genetic diversity
  • Human-wildlife coexistence, including the reduction of conflict between humans and wildlife, the reduction of wildlife damage to crops and forests, and noninvasive pest control
  • Food-web functionality including keystone species and biodiversity, food-web relationships driven by apex predators, pollinators, large herbivores, and other keystone species
  • Adaptation to climate change-associated impacts
  • Habitat connectivity for migratory species and preserving capacity for climate-change induced range shifts.

For 45 years, in order to find sustainable solutions to global change, Earthwatch has sent scientists into the field assisted by citizen-scientist volunteers. Collectively, the goal is to support projects that produce rigorous, relevant and impactful science. Participation by volunteers increases the broader impacts of the research it supports. Citizen scientists return home with a deeper awareness of what is at stake and greater commitment to address conservation challenges. 

Projects begin 2 years after application year (eg, in 2019 for applications submitted in June 2017). Typical annual budgets average between US $20,000–$80,000, with approximately half of the total budget covering volunteer expenses while on the project. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • All proposals must be submitted by the PI.
    • All PIs must have a PhD and an affiliation with a university, government agency, or NGO.
  • All proposed projects must have an overarching research theme directly related to global change and enable participation of citizen scientists and community members.
  • All proposals must focus on species that have an IUCN Red List designation of “threatened” (i.e., “critically endangered,” “endangered,” and “vulnerable” species), and their habitat.
  • Citizen Science Requirements: To fit the institute's citizen-science model, all proposed projects must:
    • Have a 3-year or longer duration (longer-term research may receive priority support)
    • Incorporate field-based research
    • Have data gathered primarily by citizen-scientist volunteers recruited by Earthwatch
    • Field 4 to 10 teams per year that span 7 to 14 days, each accommodating 4 to 20 volunteers perteam as needed for data collection
    • Provide housing for volunteers within a reasonable distance from the research site
    • Be open to graduate, college, and/or high school student participation
    • Be run in English, with all communications and supporting documents in English
    • Educate each team of Earthwatch volunteers about the project's science and its relevance
    • Share project data with managers and if possible contribute to open-source datasets to maximize the impacts of the project.
  • Annual grants cover project expenses while in the field including:
    • equipment (limited), tools, and supplies;
    • research permits;
    • scientist transport to the field;
    • support staff;
    • food and housing for principal investigators, staff, and Earthwatch volunteers.


  • We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary proposals and those that involve open-source, shared data.
  • We strongly encourage graduate student participation in projects as co-PIs as permitted by their universities. 
  • We strongly welcomes proposals for project that will improve the livelihoods of human communities and will help develop scientists in emerging nations.

  • We will prioritize for funding proposals in the following data-deficient locations:

    • Southeast Asia,

    • Patagonia, including those listed under Location Residences ( preferences).


  • We do not currently fund research in any nations and regions listed here.
  • Grants do not cover:
    • scientist salaries,
    • student tuition,
    • overhead,
    • capital equipment, and 
    • post-field work data analysis