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CESU Grant Program

A New Opportunity to Apply for Research Funding through ESA

ESA is launching a new program to provide members with additional opportunities to apply for research funding. We are a partner of the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CHWACESU), which regularly issues requests for proposals for funded research opportunities. We encourage ESA members whose institutions are not already part of the CESU network, and individual researchers, to apply to these opportunities. If selected through ESA, the applicant will be a subcontractor of ESA and must be an ESA member in good standing.

Current Opportunities

Indicator to Measure Species Vulnerability to Climate Change

The US Geological Survey (USGS) is offering a funding opportunity to a CESU partner for developing research to build and test an indicator of species vulnerability to climate change that can be applied consistently across multiple species across the United States. Developing a species vulnerability indicator will help to identify the functional, taxonomic, and geographic dimensions of biodiversity critical for determining species’ vulnerability to climate change and will help to inform effective management responses. This funding opportunity will test and validate climate change vulnerability indicators and compare to previous vulnerability assessments.

Applications are due: July 22nd, 2020

The funding opportunity announcement with more information is available here

It is anticipated that one award will be made with one base year and two renewal years.   The total estimated funding for this project is $300,000.  Funding in the amount of $100,000 is available for FY 2020.  Additional funding will be based upon satisfactory progress and the availability of funding. Research objectives include:

1) Identify emerging approaches to develop generalized species vulnerability indicators;

2) Develop, test, and validate a generalizable species’ vulnerability indicator that can be applied across taxonomic, functional, and geographic groups;

3) Apply findings to natural resource management activities and communicate results to practitioners;


Atlantic Sturgeon Research: Department of the Navy

The purpose of this project is to fill in data gaps in knowledge of the spatial and temporal habitat use of the waters surrounding the Naval Weapons Station Earl (NWSE) pier by Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), of which the New York Bight Distinct Population Segment is listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. There is currently little information on the use of these waters by the species. This information will allow the Navy to gain a better understanding of the utilization of the waters surrounding the areas of naval activity by these species and will help the Navy assess potential impact to the species as a result of their actions, make effects determinations for use in potential consultations with regulatory agencies, and to explore options for avoiding, minimizing, or mitigating for potential impacts to the species.

Statements of interest are due: July 20, 2020 2:00 pm EDT

The funding opportunity announcement with more information is available here


What Is the Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit?

The Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) Network is a national consortium of federal agencies, tribes, academic institutions, state and local governments, nongovernmental conservation organizations, and other partners working together to support informed public trust resource stewardship. The CESU Network includes more than 440 nonfederal partners and 16 federal agencies across 17 CESUs representing biogeographic regions encompassing all 50 states and U.S. territories. The CESU Network is well positioned as a platform to support research, technical assistance, education and capacity building that is responsive to long-standing and contemporary science and resource management priorities.

The Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CHWACESU) is managed by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.  

How Do I Know if I’m Eligible to Participate?

There are several criteria applicants must meet to be eligible to participate in this program:

  • Applicant must be an ESA member in good standing.
  • Applicant must be an individual researcher, or at an institution that is not part of the Chesapeake Watershed CESU Network.
  • Applicant may be based at an institution that is a member of a different CESU Network and still be eligible to apply.
  • Applicant must accept the terms and conditions of entering into a subcontract with ESA (see below).

How Do I Apply?

  1. Email gro.asenull@usec with a current CV and 2 references. Please also confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria (above) and indicate which opportunity you would like to apply for.
  2. After confirmation that ESA can enter into a subcontract with you, applicants should submit their information directly to the CESU contact listed on the Request for Statements of Interest or Request for Proposals. Please indicate in your application that you intend to work through ESA if your application is successful.
  3. Send a copy of your application materials to ESA as well (gro.asenull@usec).

What Are the Terms of the Subcontract?


  1. The applicant must be a current ESA member and demonstrate competency in the area of the research detailed in the RFP.
  2. ESA must receive a copy of all letters of intent and proposals.
  3. If selected, ESA will enter into a cooperative agreement with the federal partner naming the applicant as a subcontractor. The applicant will enter into a subcontract with ESA, provide full scope of work and agree to incorporate all the terms and conditions of the cooperative agreement (including timelines, deliverables and reports), as well as to abide by ESA’s code of ethics and code of conduct.
  4. ESA will charge 17.5% indirect cost on the total project budget. The subcontractor is free to charge indirect costs as the budget permits.


  1. As far as possible, the subcontract should include student participation.
  2. The subcontract should build into the budget: travel funds for at least one student and PI to present research at an ESA meeting (this could be our larger Annual Meeting or one of the smaller regional/chapter meetings).
  3. The subcontract should consider publishing research findings in an ESA journal and lead a webinar on the CESU project.

Who should I Contact with Questions?

Please send questions to gro.asenull@usec

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I respond to an RFP by the CHWACESU if my institution is not part of the CHWACESU network?
    This is possible only through ESA. Otherwise, if your institution is not part of the CHWACESU, you cannot submit a proposal.
  2. Can I respond to an RFP by the CHWACESU if my institution is part of another regional CESU?
    It depends. Sometimes, the same RFP is issued by more than one regional CESU. If your institution is part of one of the regions that issued the RFP, then you can submit a proposal through your institution.  If your regional CESU did not issue that RFP, the only way you could submit a proposal for that particular opportunity issued by CHWACESU would be to submit through ESA.
  3. Can I respond to an RFP by the CHWACESU through ESA if my institution is not a member of any CESU?
    Yes, as long as you are an ESA member in good standing.
  4. Can individual researchers / consultants not associated with a university or research institution respond to an RFP by the CHWACESU through ESA?
    Yes.  You will need to provide evidence that you will be able to complete all deliverables and that you are able to receive federal funds (i.e. you are not subject to debarment or suspension).
  5. Can I contact the federal partner issuing the RFP directly with questions?
    Yes, we encourage you to contact the federal partner issuing the RFP directly. ESA requires that any official correspondence naming ESA as the contractor be sent to ESA. This includes letters of intent and the formal proposal. 
  6. Does ESA vet or review the proposal?
    You should contact ESA as soon as possible if you intend to respond to the RFP or submit a letter of interest as an ESA member. We will conduct due diligence to ensure that you are eligible. ESA will not vet or review the merits of your proposal.  That process is conducted by the federal partner. Therefore, you should follow the criteria set forth in the RFP and contact the federal partner if you have any questions about the nature of the scope of work and deliverables.