This document has been archived. For current NSF funding opportunities, see
for Biological Sciences
Division of Environmental Biology
The Division of Environmental Biology
(DEB) supports fundamental research on the origins, functions, relationships,
interactions, and evolutionary history of populations, species, communities,
and ecosystems. Scientific emphases include biodiversity, molecular genetic
and genomic evolution, mesoscale ecology, conservation biology, global change,
and restoration ecology.
DEB also supports computational biology research (including modeling);
a network of long-term ecological research sites; doctoral dissertation
research; research conferences and workshops; and a variety of other NSF-wide
And Population Biology Cluster
The Systematic and Population Biology Cluster of thematic areas is located
within the Division of Environmental Biology and supports research on the
patterns and causes of diversity within and among populations and species.
Research projects in Systematic Biology and Biodiversity Surveys and Inventories
may involve any group of organisms, including terrestrial, freshwater, and
marine taxa, and may range in subject from microbes to multicellular plants,
animals, and fungi. Studies of populations of any groups of organisms in
terrestrial, wetland, or freshwater habitats are considered in Population
1. Population Biology
Focuses on measuring population properties
and understanding processes that lead to variation within and between populations.
Approaches include empirical and theoretical studies of population structure
and dynamics, microevolution, organismal adaptation, geographical differentiation,
natural hybridization and speciation, and processes that lead to macroevolutionary
patterns of trait evolution. Research areas include:
- Population Ecology—Supports studies of single
species from an ecological and evolutionary perspective, including life
history and life
cycle phenomena of terrestrial, freshwater, and wetland organisms; demography
of age- and stage-structured populations; population dynamics, including
linear, nonlinear, and stochastic approaches; and patterns of natural
and sexual selection.
- Evolutionary Genetics—Supports studies of the
causes and consequences of variation, change, selection, and evolution
characteristics, RNA and DNA sequences, mobile elements, and genic organization
and function; the evolution of genetic architecture; evolutionary genomics;
and population and quantitative genetics.
- Evolution of Phenotypes—Supports
studies of how the properties of genes (number, arrangement, and pattern)
and their interactions, including
epigenetics and development, determine evolutionary processes; and how micro-
and macro-evolutionary processes explain the evolution of complex phenotypes.
Research that addresses aspects of ecology and evolutionary biology is
also supported within other parts of the National Science Foundation. Studies
that focus on organism-centered analyses of physiology, morphology, behavior,
or development should be directed to the Division of Integrative Biology
and Neuroscience (IBN) (see information on IBN elsewhere in the BIO chapter).
Studies that focus on marine organisms should be directed to the Biological
Oceanography Program in the Division of Ocean Sciences (see the Directorate
for Geosciences chapter of this Guide). Studies that focus on interactions
among species should be directed to Ecology in the Ecological Studies Cluster,
elsewhere in the DEB section. Interdisciplinary studies are welcome.
2. Systematic Biology
Main focus areas include (1) taxonomic revisions
and monographs to improve biological classifications and nomenclature (titles
should be prefaced “REVSYS” and may be submitted to this or
the Biodiversity Surveys and Inventories Program); (2) phylogenetic analyses
that produce or test phylogenetic hypotheses or models and the use of phylogenies
to elucidate comparative studies, including those of morphology development
and molecular evolution; (3) studies that lead to better methods of taxonomic
identification and practice or advances in classificatory theory; (4) understanding
the patterns and processes of biological diversity at and above the level
of species; and (5) theoretical and comparative empirical studies—such
as those of morphology, paleontology, biogeography, sequence data or genomes—that
contribute to knowledge or models of the origin, diversification, distribution,
and extinction of species and clades, or that determine the tempo and mode
of evolutionary change at higher levels. Also included is the Special Competitions
for Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy, the deadline dates
for which are announced via special solicitation (see NSF
00-140 for the
latest program announcement and guidelines).
3. Biodiversity Surveys and Inventories (BS&I)
The main focus
areas of the BS&I Program include collecting, identifying, vouchering,
and describing the species-level diversity of all forms of life on Earth,
from microbes to mammals, including expeditionary work to document biotic
diversity in poorly known terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments.
Supported surveys may be primarily area-based (focusing on species inventory
and new species discovery, plus in some cases ecological, biogeographic,
and/or evolutionary hypothesis testing), primarily clade-based (continental-scale
to global species inventory and discovery within a particular taxonomic
group), or primarily guild-based (surveys that couple species inventory
and discovery with macroecological, historical biogeographic, and/or macroevolutionary
hypothesis testing). Beginning in 2003, the BS&I Program is partnering
with the ALL Species Foundation and other parts of NSF to support planetary
biodiversity inventories (PBI) of the worldwide, species-level diversity
of entire major groups of organisms. Proposed taxonomic revisions and monographs
that improve biological classifications and nomenclature should be prefaced “REVSYS” and
may be submitted to this or the Systematic Biology Program.
• Ecological Studies Cluster
The Ecological Studies Cluster is located within the Division of Environmental
Biology and supports research on natural and managed ecological systems,
primarily in terrestrial, wetland, and freshwater habitats. Research areas
include experimental, theoretical, and modeling studies on the structure
and function of complex biotic/abiotic associations and the coupling of
small-scale systems to each other and to large-scale systems. Projects are
encouraged that develop conceptual and synthetic linkages, such as theoretical
and modeling studies; that are conducted at one or more scales of ecological
organization; and that synthesize empirical and theoretical findings into
new ecological paradigms.
1. Ecosystem Studies
Supports mechanistic or empirical investigations
of whole-system ecological processes and relationships in the following
areas: biogeochemistry (such as studies of decomposition), global and regional
elemental budgets, and biotic versus abiotic controls of nutrient cycles;
primary productivity, particularly ecophysiology within an ecosystem framework;
and landscape dynamics, with an emphasis on quantitative models of disturbances,
ecosystem resilience, and successional patterns.
Supports community ecology and population interactions
in such areas as dynamics and processes within specific communities or
habitats; food-Web structure and landscape patterns formed by community
paleoecology; and organismal interactions, such as mutualism, plant/animal
interactions, competition, predation, coevolution, and chemical or evolutionary
3. Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)
of whole ecosystems and their component organisms and processes at sites
that represent major biomes. Projects are multidisciplinary and actively
encourage collaborative research with nonecological investigators. The
deadline for submission of proposals is announced only via special solicitations.
Unsolicited proposals will not be accepted.
4. Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB)
smaller studies that focus on evolutionary or ecological phenomena and
require long-term investigation. These awards are designed to provide funding
help maintain ongoing long-term research projects. LTREB awards are not
a source of startup funds to initiate long-term research, nor does DEB
envision that LTREB projects will be the main source of extramural support
For further information, visit the LTREB Web site at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=13449&org=DEB.