• Open Access

The changing landscape of conservation science funding in the United States


  • Editor
    Ashwini Chhatre

Victoria J. Bakker, Department of Biology, James Madison University, MSC 7801, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, USA. Tel: 480-406-4334; fax: +540-568-3333. E-mail: vjbakker@gmail.com


To understand the changing role of funding sources in shaping conservation science in the United States, we analyzed acknowledgments from published studies, trends in research funding, and survey responses from conservation scientists. Although the U.S. federal government was the most frequently acknowledged source of support overall, U.S. foundations and NGOs were the predominant sources for tropical and socioeconomic research. Acknowledgments of foundation support for conservation research increased over the last two decades, while recognition of federal funds declined. Concordant trends in funding and acknowledgments indicated a changing landscape for conservation science, in which federal support has not kept pace with the growth in conservation research efforts or needs. Survey responses from conservation scientists about their funding sources were consistent with acknowledgment data, and most (64%) indicated that shifts in funding sources and amounts affected the type of research they conduct. Ongoing changes in the funding landscape shape the direction of conservation research and may make conservation science more vulnerable to economic recessions.