Danforth Conservation Grants

Danforth Conservation Grants

The Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund (SDCBF), established by Roger Williams Park Zoo and the Rhode Island Zoological Society in 1989, supports conservation programs that protect threatened wildlife and habitats worldwide.

Field studies and other projects that demonstrate a multi-disciplinary approach to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, and projects that involve in-country collaborators receive the highest funding priority.

Environmental education programs, development of techniques that can be used in a natural environment, and captive propagation programs that stress an integrative approach to conservation are also appropriate. Projects must directly affect biological conservation.

Questions? Contact Louis Perrotti, director of conservation programs at Lperrotti@rwpzoo.org or call (401) 785-3510 ext. 335.

Important information for grant applicants:

Applicants must be associated with an organization (e.g. NGO, university, etc.) through which s/he can receive funding. Organizations, not individuals, receive funding check. There are no eligibility restrictions on the nationality of the applicant.

Projects that have been funded by the SDCBF are eligible for a second year of funding. A second application must be submitted according to the application guidelines, along with a progress report from the first year of SDCBF funding.

Funding Restrictions

Funds for elements of a project that will have already occurred before awards are granted are not eligible for grants. In rare cases there are exceptions, however,ongoing costs such as salaries of permanent staff and other administrative costs are generally not considered.

Funds to cover contingencies, institutional/organizational overhead, indirect costs, tuition fees, fringe benefits or travel not associated with project activities (e.g., travel to conferences where results will be presented) are not granted.

We may consider partial funding of a project if a particular component of the project has support and can be completed independently, or if it is made clear that additional funding has been obtained or is being sought from other sources to cover remaining costs. We do not accept proposals requesting more than the maximum amount of funds allowed for the specific grant program. One may submit a proposal for subsqequent phases of previously funded projects.

Roger Williams Park Zoo is not required to be a collaborator for a project to be eligible for funding. We will not consider highly invasive, terminal research projects or projects that collect/voucher specimens for funding.

Application Components

We will not consider proposals that do not follow the guidelines precisely.

No phone calls, please. All information needed to inform your application is included here. We suggest that you review current and past grantee project descriptions prior to preparing your application.

Title page

Include applicant's name, institutional affiliation, address, job title, degree being sought or highest degree obtained, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address, total budget, and amount requested from SDCBF (maximum annual request is $1,000).

Also, include the project title and a 100-word ABSTRACT of the proposed project, stating the purpose, methods, and significance of the project to the field of conservation biology.

Proposal Narrative

Maximum of three (3) pages with a 10-point font minimum. Literature cited in the proposal narrative may be listed on a separate single page (for a total of four (4) pages for the narrative component). The narrative must include all of the following:

  • Introduction to the project explaining the rationale for the project, specific conservation goals and objectives, and hypotheses to be tested. Clearly describe the applied conservation goals.
  • Methods/plan of action describing data collection methods, sample size, and detailed timetable including project's completion date and dissemination plan.
  • Implementation plan detailing how the project results will be used in conservation action or policy.
  • Outcome evaluation process explaining how the project's impact(s) on conservation will be assessed.
  • Detailed budget for the project. Include a budget justification with a description of how the SDCBF grant money will be used. List amount and sources of additional support, pending or received.
Curriculum Vitae

Two page maximum.

Two letters of recommendation, each from a different individual familiar with the applicant and the proposal.

Application Deadlines

June 1, 2022:

  • All components of the application (narrative, CV, and letters of recommendation). We will not accept components that arrive after the date above, nor will we accept incomplete applications.

September 15, 2022:

  • Grants awarded. No funds provided before October 1.

September 15, 2023:

  • Deadline for filing a progress report including an update on the status of the project and detailing your budgetary expenditures to date.
Application Mailing Address

Send completed application by postal mail to:
Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Fund
Roger Williams Park Zoo
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI 02907

Please Note: You may also fax your application to (401) 941-3988. However, you must also send a hard copy through postal mail.

Past Grantees
2019 Grantees

2019 Sophie Danforth Conservation Biology Grant Recipients

  • Elephants, Vultures, and Honeybees
  • Identifying Key Habitat Features of an Isolated Black Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) Population in Massachusetts
  • Ecological Assessment and Conservation Initiatives of Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) in Chitwan National Park, Nepal
  • Creation of Biological Corridors on Family Plots, for the Conservation of Abronia campbelli
  • Sea Turtle Conservation and Public Engagement with Science
  • Advanced Primate Conservation in the Face of Global Change
  • Patrol and Fire-Fighting teams to Protect and Conserve the Sabangau Forest, Indonesia
  • The Impact of Introduced Trout on Andean Amphibians
  • PASA: Primate Care Training Program
  • Pilot Project to Establish Home Ranges of Rehabilitated Sunda Pangolins (Manis javancia) in the Cat Ten National Park
2017 Grantees

Evaluation of the Prey Base and Feeding Relationships of the American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

  • PI: Brandon Quimby
  • Award amount: $1000.00

Can isotopes in feces track the mobility of difficult to observe mammals

  • PI: Brooke Erin Crowley
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Conservation and Empowerment in Uganda

  • PI: Rebecca Goldstone
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Lowland Tapir Health, Risk Assessment and Long-Term Conservation in Brazil

  • PI: Renata Carolina Fernandes Santos
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Determining life history and population size of juvenile and adult diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) in Rhode Island

  • PI: Sarah Helmbrecht
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Conservation of the Critically Endangered alligator lizard Ambronia campbelli in eastern Guatemala through Habitat Restoration and Community 

  • PI: Brad Lock
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) Nesting Ecology, Mating Behavior and Genetic Diversity in Disturbed and Undisturbed Nesting Sites

  • PI: Alexandra T Vik
  • Award Amount: $946.37

The Effect of Visual, and Auditory Deterrents, and Hive Protections on Honey Badger Depredation of Beehive Fences

  • PI: Abigail Johnson
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Preserving the endangered African manatee population from human activities in Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve

  • PI: Ngafack Paul Rodrique
  • Award Amount: $990.00

Ecological community response to the abatement of oil and gas development -- implications for restoration planning

  • PI: Rachel Buxton
  • Award Amount: $996.80
2016 Grantees

Human Dimensions of Timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) Conservation: An Evaluation of Landowner Attitudes in Connecticut (USA)

  • PI: Lindsay S. Keener-Eck
  • Graduate Research Assistant, University of Connecticut
  • Award amount: $1000.00

Sustainable Innovations and Conservation Education with Wildlife-Neighboring Communities in Uganda

  • PI: New Nature Foundation (Kibale Fuel Wood Project)
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Investigating feeding platforms as a means for dispersing and propagating native tree seeds via frugivorous birds in the Dominican Republic

  • PI: Spencer Schubert
  • PhD Student, Old Dominion University
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Biodiversity Conservation of the Tubah Upland Forests through community edu-engagement using Conservation Radio, Posters, Conservation Champions League, Agroforestry, and Tree Nursery Design, Construction and Management trainings, School Conservation Clubs and the Tubah Local Community Conservation Team.

  • PI: Ngalim Franklin Njaiwo
  • Founder/President-The Greens
  • Bamenda, NWR- Cameroon
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Demography of a recovery: Little brown bats rebounding from white-nose syndrome in the North East

  • PI: Katherine Gillman
  • PhD Student, University of New Hampshire
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Conserving South Africa’s free-ranging cheetah through Farmers: Predator Conflict Mitigation

  • PI: Deon Cilliers
  • Field Officer, Cheetah Outreach Trust
  • The effects of suburbanization on the reproductive behavior and physiology of wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus)
  • PI: Dr. Lindsey Swierk, Yale University
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Can isotopes in feces track the mobility of difficult to observe mammals?

  • PI: Brooke Erin Crowley
  • Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) Nesting Ecology, Mating Behavior, and Genetic Diversity in Disturbed and Undisturbed Nesting Sites

  • PI: Alexandra T. Vlk
  • Masters of Science Candidate; Biology, State University of New York – College at Oneonta
  • Award Amount: $1000.00

Conservation of the Critically Endangered alligator lizard (Abronia campbelli) in eastern Guatemala through Habitat Restoration and Community Forest Management- Phase II

  • PI: Brad Lock, DVM; Dipl ACZM
  • Zoo Atlanta
  • Award Amount: $1000.00
2015 Grantees

Conservation Genetics of Threatened Endemic Reptiles in Guatemala

  • Goal:  A wide range genetic diversity analysis will be conducted on the Guatemalan beaded lizard and, in the first ever study of its kind, preliminary steps in developing and implementing genetic analysis for the genus Abronia will be initiated. This data, and the subsequent tests developed and utilized, will be extremely important for current and future decision making concerning the conservation of these species and their habitats.
    • Location:  Zoo Atlanta (Atlanta, GA, USA)
    • Principal Investigator:  Brad Lock, DVM, Dipl., ACZM
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00

Reintroduction and Genetic Monitoring of the Endangered Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit

  • Goal:  The Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit was believed to be extirpated in its native habitat in central Washington, and since 2011, over 400 individuals have been reintroduced. Successful recovery depends on detailed monitoring to inform adaptive management of the recovery program. Noninvasive genetic monitoring using fecal DNA allows for powerful demographic and genetic monitoring of the reintroduced population without the need for recapture or other invasive techniques. This project will aid in the recovery of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit and the results, as well as genetic methods, will contribute to conservation strategies for other threatened or endangered wildlife species.
    • Location:  University of Idaho
    • Principal Investigator:  Stephanie DeMay
    • Amount Awarded:  $1000.00

Torpor in a Critically Endangered Primate: Climate effects on behavior, microhabitat use and reintroduction of the Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus)

  • Goal:  Listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, and thrice included in the Top 25 Most Endangered Primates, the Javan slow loris finds itself increasingly restricted to various environmental constraints. Reintroduction success rates are dismal. Examining the adaptive behavior and feeding ecology of the slow loris, this study will be conducted on 24 lorises in an agroforest to determine the effects of climate, altitude, and anthropogenic disturbances. The results will be distributed as a strategy for conservation of habitat and reintroduction.
    • Location:  West Java, Indonesia
    • Principal Investigator:  Kathleen Reinhardt; Dendi Rustandi
    • Amount Awarded:  $950.00

Serengeti Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Program

  • Goal:  To conserve wildlife and their habitats and mitigate the human-elephant conflict in villages bordering the Serengeti ecosystem in the Bunda District by:
  • Providing wildlife and habitat conservation education to five villages in the Bunda District starting from January 1 – February 28. Three village training meetings will be carried out in each.
  • Establish an exemplary chili pepper and ginger farm at Bukore village starting from January – December.
  • Purchase and install one grain grinding machine at Bukore village in July.
    • Location:  Bunda District, Africa
    • Principal Investigator:  Stevens Ng’walali, Executive Chairman of the Community Poverty Reduction and Environment Conservation Trust
    • Amount Awarded:  $1000.00

Conservation Radio: Conserving species of the Bamenda Highlands for posterity.

  • Goal:  Conservation Radio is a project that conserves endemic and endangered flora and fauna of the Bamenda Highlands of the Northwest region of Cameroon via habitat restoration through the establishment of a species safe zone, a Local Community Conservation Team (LCCT), and a 60-minute weekly conservation educational radio show.
    • Location:  Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon, Africa
    • Principal Investigator:  Ngalim Franklin Njaiwo, Founder/President of Conservation Radio
    • Amount Awarded:  $1,000.00

Pan African Sanctuary Alliance’s (PASA) Emergency Healthcare and Rehabilitation Program for Injured African Primates

  • Goal:  As human populations expand, African primates are increasingly harmed and brought to one of the 22 PASA member sanctuaries for treatment. To increase the capabilities of sanctuaries to help these animals, PASA will hold a workshop in November 2014 at Colobus Conservation, Kenya to focus on wild primate rehabilitation medicine. This training includes two days of theory involving interactive presentations, two days of practical application, followed by one day of extensive evaluation. Emergency healthcare is a critical component of species conservation and the workshop’s goal is to increase the number of primates able to be released following treatment.
    • Location:  Colobus Conservation, Kenya, Africa
    • Principal Investigator:  Julie Sherman, PASA Executive Director; Steve Unwin, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS, PASA Veterinary Advisor
    • Amount Awarded:  $1,000.00

RNA Viruses: Prevalence, transmission, and effect on native bumble bees in Vermont

  • Goal:  In 2013, Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE), a nonprofit organization dedicate to preserving biodiversity through research, reported the results of a state-wide bee survey: 3 of Vermont’s 15 bumble bee species appear to have vanished or are in serious decline. RNA viruses, once considered to be specific to European honey bees, are among the suspected threats to native bumble bees. My proposed project will address the following objectives:
  • Define a viral host range across native bumble bee species in Vermont
  • Use field and controlled greenhouse experiments
  • Examine the effects of viral infection on bumble bee behavior and health, and the role of shared floral resources in virus transmission
  • No previous study has defined the viral host range across native bees or examined the role of flowering plants in viral transmission. Filling these gaps in present knowledge is a critical step in making practical management recommendations that maintain healthy pollinator communities.
    • Location:  Burlington, VT
    • Principal Investigator:  Samantha Alger, Ph.D. Student at the University of Vermont
    • Amount Awarded:  $1,000.00

Development and Utilization of a Quantitative PCR for Diagnosis of Steinhausia microsporidia in Captive Polynesian Tree Snails, Partula nodosa

  • Goal:  In 1996, Steinhausia was reported as the cause of death in a Partula turgida population. During pre-release screening for the SSP on P. nodosa, microsporidial cysts, consistent with Steinhausia sp. were seen throughout digestive glands of 27 necropsied snails. Correlation with other histopathological findings was also elusive. The current prevalence and significance of this organism in Partula is unknown. We propose to develop a quantitative PCR for the identification of this organism and screening of populations. Results from this test will be correlated to histopathological findings in order to assess the significance of this parasite in Partula prior to reintroduction.
    • Location:  University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
    • Principal Investigator:  Jim Wellehan, DVM, MS, Ph.D., Dipl., ACVM (Virology, Bacteriology/Mycology)
    • Amount Awarded:  $1,276.00

Conservation of the African Large Carnivore Guild: Experimental investigation of interspecific competition involving spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta)

  • Goal:  The purpose of this project is to investigate the role of spotted hyenas in the African large predator guild in northern Botswana. This study is using a combination of population monitoring, behavioral observations, and experimental techniques to investigate how hyenas interact with other predators. Field research will examine why hyenas initiate or avoid an encounter with competitors. To develop effective conservation measures for large carnivores, it is essential to understand how species-specific behaviors influence inter-species coexistence. This study will contribute to the conservation of large carnivores through integration with long-term work by the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust.
    • Location:  Botswana, Africa
    • Principal Investigator:  Jessica Vitale, Wild Entrust International
    • Amount Awarded:  $1,000.00

Outdoor Teaching on Natural History to Promote the Conservation of Taita Hills Forests, Kenya

  • Goal:  Conservation of the biodiversity-rich Taita Hills Forests in Kenya needs the engagement of the local community. Yet local youth have little appreciation and understanding of what the forests hold. Through an outdoor teaching program for schools, this project will offer opportunities to over 1,000 students to directly interact with the forests, and get a simplified interpretation of the biology, ecology and biodiversity value of these unique forests. Through field lectures, nature walks, games and distribution of nature interpretation materials, the program will contribute to the students’ understanding and appreciation of the forests and inspire them to participate in the protection of the forests.
    • Location:  Taita Hills Forests, Kenya, Africa
    • Principal Investigator:  Lawrence Wagura, National Museums of Kenya
    • Amount Awarded:  $993.50
2014 Grantees
Understanding seasonal diet and habitat overlap of musk deer with livestock and assessment of habitat selection
  • Goal: Habitat management within the protected areas is a key to an effective management and conservation of wildlife. Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster) in Nepal appears to face a huge threat and pressure from livestock grazing in the former's habitat calling for a well-informed understanding on potential diet and habitat overlap with the livestock. The proposed project aims to evaluate the potential seasonal diet and habitat overlap between livestock and musk deer via micro-histological analysis and assessment of habitat parameters respectively. The project is expected to aid in habitat management plan and conservation of the species in the wild.
    • Location: Nepal
    • Principal Investigator: Kapil K. Khada
    • Amount Awarded: $955.00
Investigating chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus in symptomatic and asymptomatic infected green sea turtles
  • Goal: Chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus (CFPHV) is associated with fibropapillomatosis, the most important infectious disease of marine turtles. The purpose of this study is to develop pathogen-specific molecular assays to detect and quantify CFPHV in various sample types; and to implement these assays to identify cryptic sources of transmissible viral particles in specific sample/cell types involved in symptomatic and asymptomatic CFPHV infection. Diagnostic utilization of these assays will identify asymptomatic CFPHV carriers, helping to determine quarantine status and avoid transmission opportunities among rehabilitating turtles. Understanding how CFPHV is shed will assist turtle population managers and rehabilitators in controlling for this devastating disease.
    • Location: Georgia and Florida
    • Principal Investigator: Annie Page-Karjian
    • Amount Awarded: $885.00
Conservation of the African large carnivore guild: experimental investigation of interspecific competition involving spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta)
  • Goal: The purpose of this project is to investigate spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) behavior involved in resource competition with African large carnivores. This study will experimentally test the impact of several factors (i.e. prey, habitat, carnivore species, sociality) on whether hyaenas initiate or avoid an encounter with competitors, and reveal the relative risks to vulnerable heterospecifics. To develop effective conservation measures for large carnivores, it is essential to understand how species-specific behavioral factors influence inter-species coexistence. Through integration with long-term work by the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, the proposed study will contribute directly to the conservation of large carnivores in Botswana.
    • Location: Botswana
    • Principal Investigator: Jessica Vitale
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00
Development of Assisted Reproductive Techniques in the African wild dog
  • Goal: The African wild dog is an endangered canid with less than 5500 animals remaining in the wild. Despite different strategies undertaken to preserve the species, numbers of free-living animals are still declining. The African Predator Conservation Research Organization (APCRO) and the Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Animals (IBREAM) will work together in the development of semen banking techniques and artificial insemination. The use of a worldwide semen bank, containing semen of genetically underrepresented African wild dogs, will enable us to better regulate captive breeding, optimize genetic diversity in captivity and reduce the need to capture wild living animals.
    • Location: Botswana
    • Principal Investigator: Femke Van den Berghe, DVM, Msc
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00
Dogs Saving Cats: The Livestock Guarding Dog Program
  • Goal: The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) has undergone severe decline throughout its range over the past century, often due to livestock-predator conflicts. The Livestock Guarding Dog Program continues to be one of CCF's most successful conservation projects. Since 1994, Anatolian Shepherds and Kangals have been bred, trained and placed on livestock farms as a non-lethal method of predator control. To date, participating farmers have reported up to an 80% decrease in livestock losses. The burden of convincing farmers not to kill or harass a cheetah is greatly reduced when they do not perceive the cheetah as a threat to his/her livelihood.
    • Location: Turkey
    • Principal Investigator: Dr. Laurie Marker, DPhil
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00
Frog-biting mosquitoes, Culex territans and Uranotaenia sapphirina as vectors of multiple amphibian pathogens
  • Goal: Pathogens are a leading cause of amphibian population decline and extinction. Anurans commonly found in New England have tested positive for the Chytrid fungus, ranavirus, and typanosomes. Evidence suggests that frog-biting mosquitoes may be vectors of these pathogens. Culex territans and Uranotaenia sapphirina are frog-biting mosquitoes found in New England that could potentially transfer pathogens between anurans and sites. Environemental factors have shown to increase virulence of pathogens and range of vectors, making the geographical distibution important to know in light of climate change. This study will establish frog-biting mosquitoes as vectors of anuran pathogens and will determine the geographical distribution of the chytrid fungus, ranavirus, and trypanosomes in anuran populations and frog-biting mosquitoes by quantitative polymerase chain reaction procedures.
    • Location: New England
    • Principal Investigator: Mandy Gaudreau
    • Amount Awarded: $946.00
Raising Awareness of Endangered Abronia species in Guatemala through Education and the PEFCA Center
  • Goal: As part of a larger project (Project Abronia) focused on the conservation of Abronia species in Guatemala, the construction and subsequent utilization of the Parque Ecologico Forestal Cerro Alto (PEFCA) Center for Abronia Conservation, Education and Reproduction will greatly enhance our educational programs and awareness campaign. The Center will allow us to increase the number of educational presentations given, increase our conservation footprint through our partner hotels, and will serve the local community with jobs as we plan on training local people to run the day to day operation of the Center.
    • Location: Guatemala
    • Principal Investigator: Brad Lock, DVM
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00
Primate Protection in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Supporting Local Leaders in Conservation Education Efforts
  • Goal: The Centre de Rehabilitation des Primates de Lwiro (CRPL) is presently home to 128 primates that have been rescued from the rampant illegal wildlife trade that plagues the DRC. CRPL is the only sanctuary in the DRC presently accepting endangered chimpanzees and primates, thus considered one of the primary players for conservation in the region. In collaboration with conservation authorities, CRPL aims to pilot educational workshops in local villages on conversation issues, laws and policies to increase the number of people respecting these laws, thereby reducing the number of primates being hunted and arriving at the Centre.
    • Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
    • Principal Investigator: Dr. Carmen Vidal
    • Amount Awarded: $868.28
Soil Properties and Vegetation Carbohydrate content on Jackrabbit Inhabited Prairie Grass Areas in South Dakota
  • Goal: The white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) has a general population decline in states across the USA. It is unsure as to the reasons for population decline and recent research in South Dakota shows that kidney fat index values for the jackrabbit varies seasonally. These results may indicate the importance of carbohydrate content in vegetation, as the vegetation plays a very critical role in pre-natal nutrition and health of the first litter. This project proposes to study the carbohydrate content of vegetation samples from Midwest South Dakota.
    • Location: South Dakota
    • Principal Investigator: Kelsey Gilcrease
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00
Empowering Communities to Protect Declining Ecosystems: The Kibale Fuel Wood Project and Kibale Eco-Char Initiative
  • Goal: NNF works to protect Uganda's Kibale National Park by helping safeguard biodiversity and improve people-park relations through empowerment of local citizens. The KFWP works with people at the border of the park by promoting efficient stoves, encouraging native firewood crops, and engaging communities through environmental education. The KECI complements the Foundation's other work by creating cooking fuel from farm waste, reducing the overall need for firewood and directly benefitting Kibale's trees and wildlife. through these programs, sustainable and realistic solutions are offered for conserving the park for future generations.
    • Location: Uganda, Africa (Communities surrounding Kibale National Park)
    • Principal Investigators: Mrs. Rebecca Goldstone & Mr. Michael Stern
    • Amount Awarded: $1000.00