White-nose Syndrome Research for Conservation Grants
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is pleased to announce the availability of funding for research and conservation in 2021 to support issues related directly to the management of white-nose syndrome (WNS). The Service provides financial and technical assistance to non-governmental, university, and private researchers, as well as state and local governments, Native American tribes, and federal agencies, for the management of WNS and conservation of bats. Funded projects will investigate priority questions to improve our ability to manage the disease and implement management actions that will help to conserve affected bat species. As of May 10, 2021, WNS is confirmed or suspected in bats in 38 states and seven Canadian provinces, and evidence of the causative fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has been detected in at least two additional states without additional sign of the disease. Numerous North American and Eurasian species of bats have been confirmed with WNS or detected carrying Pd. For information on WNS and previously funded projects, please see: http://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/ Funding through WNS Research for Conservation Grants provides critical information and resources for maximizing the benefits of conservation efforts for bats. These actions are focused on minimizing the impacts of WNS and compounding stressors on federally listed species, prioritizing actions to conserve species that are susceptible to the disease, including those that may be assessed for listing due to the impacts of WNS, and understanding how different species are likely to respond when exposed to the pathogen. Projects submitted tor this opportunity should concentrate on efforts where there is the greatest need and benefit. Priorities for this funding opportunity are designed to develop and apply tools that maximize persistence of WNS-affected bat populations, minimize the range and impacts of Pd, support collaborative actions of the WNS National Response, and inform management decisions in preparation for, or in response to, WNS. Scientific research conducted in collaboration with management authorities is encouraged. Funding in 2021 will support projects that address the following objectives and priorities: Objective: Support research to produce critical knowledge relevant to management decisions and actions for hibernating bats. Understand mechanisms of survival between and within bat species, including variability in susceptibility to WNS and non-lethal effects to health and reproduction. Mechanisms may involve environmental, physiological, behavioral, genetic and other factors affecting hosts, pathogen, and environments, as well as interactions among them. Understand effects of non-disease factors influencing viability of hibernating bats. Factors may include stressors (e.g. prey scarcity, contaminants, etc.) that introduce additive or compounding impacts to populations and should produce information needed to enact comprehensive management strategies for bats. Develop tools to improve survival and persistence of WNS-affected or WNS-vulnerable species; especially tools that can be applied during summer. Vulnerable species include hibernating bats likely to be susceptible to WNS in the future even if they have not yet been exposed to Pd. Objective: Leverage resources (expertise, funds, partnerships, etc.) to implement adaptive management efforts aimed at building resiliency and promoting recovery in hibernating bat populations. Implement strategies to support biological and ecological needs of hibernating bats, including establishing baseline information relevant to implementing management actions and monitoring their effects. Implement adaptive management programs to improve survival and persistence of species impacted by or vulnerable to WNS using existing options for management. This priority includes work with species that are not yet confirmed to be susceptible to WNS but can reasonably be anticipated to be in the future. Through this funding opportunity, we aim to support research to inform management decisions for WNS, and to implement those strategies for the greatest benefit to affected and vulnerable species. Due to the urgency of this threat to bats and the rapid progress of related science, we seek to fund projects that are likely to produce impactful results within a two year project period. The WNS Research for Conservation Grants opportunity accompanies two additional funding opportunities from the Service’s WNS National Response in 2021: 1) WNS Grants to States and Tribes 2021 (through June 1, 2021: www.grants.gov); and 2) Bats for the Future Fund (managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; closed April 29, 2021: www.nfwf.org/bats). Contact the Service WNS coordinator in your region (below) for more information about these funding opportunities. NOTE: Grantees are encouraged to use or allow use of the data management infrastructure of NABat prior to completion of the grant reporting period, if appropriate. Projects involving population monitoring are not required to occur with the specific monitoring protocols of NABat, nor in the highest priority grid cells. Contribution of data entails providing locations only at the resolution of the NABat grid cell (10 km x 10 km), and not precise locations of data or descriptive site names. Standard reports including data visualization outputs generated by NABat are accepted to fulfill award reporting requirements for project activities funded through this opportunity. The use of grant funds requires adherence to established protocols and methodologies developed or espoused by the national WNS working groups for surveillance, diagnostics, population monitoring, conservation and recovery, and disease management (for more information contact the appropriate Service WNS coordinator), as well as the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and National Environmental Policy Act. All proposed actions must be in line with the most current guidance, policies, and information related to the COVID-19 pandemic and SARS-CoV-2. The Service’s White-nose Syndrome program is coordinated and funded through the branches of Ecological Services and Science Applications, and will be working with the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program (WSFR) to administer these WNS Research for Conservation Grants. Grants will be competitively awarded based on merit review of proposed projects for their applicability and feasibility to address priorities identified in this notice and for their overall contribution to meeting the objectives of the WNS national plan (White-Nose Syndrome Response Plans).