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Requests for Proposals

Biodiversity Exploration and Discovery

Photograph by Gabby Salazar

Humans share the Earth with a spectacular variety of life. Since 1753, when Carl Linnaeus began our modern system of giving organisms two-part Latin names, almost two million species of eukaryotes have been identified and named. However, most of the millions of organisms on the planet have not yet been catalogued. The most recent biodiversity estimates suggest that more than 80 percent of species remain unknown to science – and that doesn’t even count bacteria! Lack of data impairs our ability to responsibly manage and conserve the planet’s resources. With more than one million species on the verge of extinction, we need to act rapidly or they will be gone forever – and will remain mostly unknown.   

Eminent biodiversity scientist E.O. Wilson has called for a “Linnaean renaissance” to close the gap between the number of estimated species and those described by science. In honor of Wilson’s contributions to the field, and in celebration of his 90th birthday on June 10, this RFP aims to advance this important goal.   

National Geographic is committed to a better understanding of our planet and an improved ability to conserve our world’s biodiversity. With the goals to 1) find and describe new species, and 2) better understand the patterns of distribution and abundance of poorly known groups of organisms, this RFP will support inventories, surveys, and research expeditions in regions of the world where species discoveries are more likely to occur and where little or no information is available. We encourage proposals for work in any biome.

Successful applications must provide: 1) justification as to why the specific area or taxonomic group needs to be explored, 2) clear methodology for how species will be determined and a plan for taxonomic validation, and 3) a plan for depositing specimens and/or materials collected in an appropriate, permanent home. Preference will be given to proposals from applicants residing in the country of fieldwork, and all proposals must include at least one team member from the country where the fieldwork takes place. Projects that include the active involvement of early career conservationists are encouraged.

Please note: National Geographic requires that any expeditions intending to collect specimens have permissions from and operate under the biodiversity legislation of the host country – no exceptions. Applicants must obtain export and import permits where applicable. Applicants selected for funding will be required to show permits and depository plans prior to any work commencing.

Proposals that focus on the following themes are encouraged:

  • Inventories, surveys, and research expeditions in areas of endemism and richness, especially where these have been highly damaged or threatened by human activities

  • Develop conservation strategies relating to new discoveries as they are made

  • Better understand the patterns of biological diversity, including distribution and abundance of poorly known groups

Applicants may request up to $50,000, with clear budget justification for use of the grant. Successful applicants should use awarded funds within one year.

PLEASE NOTE: JANUARy 2020 IS THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL FOR THIS FUNDING OPPORTUNITY.

For More Information

For more information about this RFP, join us for an informational webinar where we can answer your questions about this funding opportunity. 

  • November 5, 2019, at 9 a.m. EDT
  • November 7, 2019, at 4 p.m. EST
  • November 12, 2019, at 4 p.m. EST
  • November 14, 2019, at 9 a.m. EST

If you would like to attend a webinar, please fill out this form. Recordings of the webinars will not be posted publicly.  

Please consult our Frequently Asked Questions here.

Ready to Apply?

Learn more about what you will need to prepare your grant proposal
and begin your application.

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The Half-Earth Project, from the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, is working to conserve half the land and sea to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity.