Applications are now open for the Wild Animal Initiative’s Challenge Grants Program to support researchers exploring critical research questions that will unlock new avenues of wild animal welfare research and are not prioritized by other funders.
For the most part, the scope of wildlife research has traditionally been limited to impacts of the harms humans cause. Therefore, much uncertainty remains about other factors that affect what animals’ lives are like in the wild, and what humans could do to help responsibly. Answering those questions will not be easy. The diversity of animal species and the complexity of ecosystem interactions requires a wider range of research expertise than any one research group might have.
The grants empower wild animal welfare researchers to explore topics neglected by other funders. They support research that advances understanding of the fundamental concepts, novel methods, and preliminary interventions that will most rapidly accelerate progress in the field.
- Theme #1: Welfare impacts of parasites and pathogens
- This theme is restricted to projects investigating animal host species only, but there is no restriction on the type of parasite (e.g. bacteria, fungi, helminths, insects, vertebrates, protozoans, and viruses). They welcome projects on the welfare effects of any type of host-parasite interaction, including but not limited to hyperparasitism (parasites of parasites), kleptoparasitism (stealing from a host), and brood parasitism (laying eggs in the nest of another). Projects can explore many different types of parasitic strategy, such as parasitic castration (rendering the host partially or fully infertile). Both theoretical modeling approaches and empirical studies will be considered under this theme.
- Theme #2: Validating indicators of affective valence
- For this theme, they welcome projects that aim to validate humanely measurable behavioral or physiological markers as welfare indicators in any animal species. Particularly competitive projects will focus on markers with the potential for use in a variety of species.
- Grant size: $30,000 — $200,000 USD total.
- Up to 5 years
- Projects must be led by a principal investigator who is affiliated with a research institution. Applicants from any country that is eligible to receive funding from a US donor are welcome to apply.
- Challenge Grant projects must be led by an experienced principal investigator, but can include financial support for students or other early-career collaborators.
- Eligible projects include those that are standalone, or those that add a wild animal welfare component to an existing non-Wild Animal Initiative funded project to broaden its scope.
- Projects must be led by a principal investigator who is affiliated with a university or other research institution (e.g. a government agency).
- Projects must be led by or include collaborators who are residents of all countries where field work will take place. If a project is managed by an NGO, that NGO must be registered in the country where field work will take place.
- They prioritize funding for direct research costs (e.g. supplies, materials), though they do fund other expense areas (e.g. stipends, salaries, capital equipment) if they are fully justified relative to the project goals.
- You may apply as a team of collaborators, but they will ask you to identify a lead applicant. The lead applicant, or their institution, will be the official grantee in the event that your proposal is accepted. The grantee or their institution will need to assume responsibility for disbursing funds among collaborators.
- They do not provide funding for indirect costs or institutional overhead.
- They are unable to sponsor visas, so they generally cannot fund work that would be carried out in the United States by a non-US resident.
- They are unable to fund research carried out in nations subject to sanctions by the United States (e.g. Iran, North Korea, Russia) or researchers who are residents of those nations.
- They generally do not fund more than one active project being led by the same Principal Investigator at the same time.
- Projects focused exclusively on a single welfare domain.
- Projects that do not characterize the subjective experience (welfare) of animals or do not treat it as their objective.
- Projects focused exclusively on wildlife conservation.
For more information, visit Wild Animal Initiative.