ASBS logo

Australian Conservation Taxonomy Awards

The Australian Conservation Taxonomy Awards are designed to foster research by young scientists into important taxonomic problems that have significant implications for conservation in Australia. The Nature Conservancy have created these awards, thanks to generous support from The Thomas Foundation. Initially (2012 and 2013) the awards supported plant systematics, but for 2014, 2015 and 2016 there will be separate Botany and Zoology awards offered each year.

Both the Botany and Zoology awards include $5000 toward research costs. The Botany award also includes up to $2000 to assist with attendance at two ASBS conferences. Judging of awards will be done by The Nature Conservancy with assistance from the ASBS Research Committee (Botany award) and from the Society of Australian Systematic Biologists (Zoology Award).

The awards fill a gap in science awards currently available in Australia in that they focus on taxonomy, an area of science which is chronically under-funded. Taxonomy helps us understand biodiversity and therefore is critical for conservation. The awards will also help to celebrate and promote the role that taxonomists and curators play in many ways, including measuring the response and adaptation of biodiversity to climate change. From the perspective of both The Nature Conservancy and The Thomas Foundation, the awards provide young researchers with the opportunity to build stronger links with those organisations and their partners in order to make a lasting contribution to conservation.

Applications for an Australian Conservation Taxonomy Award are welcomed from all current financial members of the Australasian Systematic Botany Society (Botany Award) or Society of Australian Systematic Biologists (Zoology Award). Applicants must either be currently enrolled as postgraduate research students or planning to enrol in a postgraduate research degree within twelve months of the closing date for applications. The project must contribute to Australian systematic botany (including plants, cryptogams, macrofungi and algae) or zoology, must be carried out within Australia, and must have relevance to a conservation issue.

Applications will be assessed on the quality of the applicant and the proposed project. The project should have a clearly-defined scope and preferably result in a publication.

Assessment of Applications

Applicants should prepare their proposals carefully and completely, giving brief personal details, academic record (undergraduate as well as postgraduate, and level of honours awarded, if applicable), institution where the project will be carried out, and attaching signed letters of support from two scientific referees, one of which should be a current supervisor. Apart from the academic standing of the applicant, the following will be taken into account in assessing proposals:

  • evidence of the applicant’s ability to carry out the project, such as relevant experience with the techniques;
  • previous experience in carrying out research;
  • applicant’s academic record;
  • the applicant’s CV, including any relevant publications (published or accepted only)
  • letters of support from referees;
  • the scientific and/or theoretical merit of the proposal;
  • the likelihood that it will make a worthwhile contribution to systematic botany or zoology in Australia and a nature conservation issue;
  • identification and proper budgeting of the particular aspect of the project that funding will make possible, rather than a request for partial support of a large project will be essential;
  • extension of a project into some new and worthwhile area should be noted; it may be advantageous, though is not essential to a project;
  • the feasibility of the project being carried out within the proposed timetable and with the available resources;
  • the soundness of the proposed methodology and planning of the work schedule.
  • the potential conservation impact of the proposal, i.e., conservation benefits that could come from improved understanding of the systematics of the taxa concerned. Where applicable, applications should highlight potential impacts on conservation in Gondwana Link and the Great Western Woodlands region of Western Australia (see e.g., Australia’s tropical savannas (see e.g., the aridlands of Australia, wetlands and floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin, or temperate Australian estuaries, which are amongst the conservation priorities of The Nature Conservancy.
  • Requirements of Successful Applicant

    A report summarising the tasks and objectives accomplished by the use of the award funds and a financial accounting of budget to actual expenditures must be submitted to the ASBS Secretary by 30 November of the year following a successful applications. A short report on the progress and outcomes of the research project should be submitted annually to ASBS and The Nature Conservancy in November each year until the completion of the postgraduate degree, including copies of any published papers or conference presentations

    A brief summary of the project is required to be submitted for publication in the ASBS Newsletter (Botany Award) or the SASB Newsletter (Zoology Award) within 18 months of the award being issued.

    Acknowledgement of The Nature Conservancy and The Thomas Foundation in any published papers and presentations.

    For recipients of the Botany Award: A presentation (either spoken or poster) outlining the proposed research to be given at the ASBS conference at which the award is formally presented. A spoken presentation describing the results of the funded research is to be given at the ASBS conference following that at which the award was granted.

    Application Form

    Grant Application Form (55kb Word document)

    This grant application form must be completed in sufficient detail to provide a 'stand alone' proposal.

    References and publication list may be attached to provide additional information.

    Completed applications for both the Botany and Zoology awards must be submitted as pdf files by email to the ASBS Secretary.

    Both the Selection Criteria and a Grant Application Form are available from this web site.

    The closing dates for applications are 14 September 2014, 22 May 2015 and 22 May 2016 (extended from 13 May).

    The assessment committees may decide to make no awards in a particular round.


    Past Award Recipients

    Zoology award:
    Kirilee Chaplin, The University of Melbourne and Museum Victoria, "Taxonomy, ecology and conservation genetics of grassland earless dragons (Agamidae: Tympanocryptis spp.) in north-eastern Australia".
    Botany awards:
    James Clugston, RBG Sydney (enrolled at the University of Edinburgh), "Exploring new approaches for conservation genetics of Cycas calcicola Maconochie (Cycadaceae) in Australia".
    Rachael Fowler, The University of Melbourne and RBG Victoria, "The genus Eremophila in Australia's arid zone: phylogeny and biogeography in South Australia".

    Zoology award:
    James Shelley, The University of Melbourne, "The Kimberley Ark: assessing and conserving freshwater fish biodiversity in Australia’s last pristine river systems".
    [Note: No botany applications were funded in the 2014 round.]

    Botany award:
    Lalita Simpson, James Cook University, "What is at risk? Phylogeography and taxonomy of orchids endemic to Queensland’s mountain top biodiversity hotspots".

    Botany award:
    Todd McLay, The University of Melbourne, "Classification, phylogeny and conservation of Xanthorrhoea in Western Australia".