Funding for iNaturalist-driven research projects?

Hi y’all,

I’m searching for small sources of funding for iNaturalist-driven research projects – can anyone recommend small pots of funding for such research? Does iNat itself ever fund projects that primarily use iNat data? I’ve seen one-off grants for “participatory science” centered projects from, e.g., NSF, but they tend to favor projects that directly involve community participants rather than consisting of secondary analysis of data from an existing community science platform like iNat.

For reference, I’m a postdoc researcher and am beginning a phenology-focused project across angiosperms that purely features iNaturalist data. The computational resources required for analyzing the data might cost up to a couple thousand dollars.



No, iNaturalist doesn’t do this.


There is, in general, rarely funding for data analysis research, and as you’ve said, what little research funding there is for participatory science leans heavily into working with participants.


A National Geographic Early Career grant might be a good fit.


If you can target your study to local interests, rare local plants, climate change in your area, etc., you might get a very small grant from your local state or provincial native plant society.


This is possible, though it’s not worked for me.

There’s the usual sources, well known: Nature Conservancy, Sierra, etc. If your study involves any of their properties/ focuses they may fund some- but it’s very competitive.

Believe it or not, the oil and mining companies also fund research. It makes them look good.

Grants are tough to break into. There are many people who specialize in doing nothing else except writing grants- you have to know the buzzwords that get funded, and the unpublished expectations of the target granter. Once you do get a grant, it’s pretty easy to get more from the same source- but until then, good luck.

Note too that most grants in some fields (for example, entomology) are almost exclusively around very specific, money-related interests such as agricultural pests. Further, there are common buzzwords that without which one may be unlikely to receive a grant- “global warming”, “invasive”, etc. In my field, it’s funny to watch the publications because five years ago they’d touch on global warming, now it’s in the title- no matter how remotely related to the actual subject. My personal project does indeed involve weather change, though it’s not my focus; no doubt it would receive better exposure if I re-branded it as global warming with the real study appearing as secondary.


What is your research about? (Other than phenology.) What does across angiosperms mean? Global?


Are there any interdisciplinary internal grants you can apply for? Like partner with someone in the comp sci or data analytics department? I feel like universities love funding initiatives like that

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Thanks so much everyone for the info and suggestions! Definitely will look into the National Geographic grant program and into local + society + internal university grants. I definitely expected to find internal grants at my institution but haven’t run into anything yet that fits.

To answer @JaneBP - the project is about mechanisms driving correlation between flowering phenology and floral traits across all angiosperms in North America. Part of the project will be isolating evolutionary groups at different scales, but the overall dataset is all North American angiosperms. Unfortunately this makes it hard to target local grants, and it’s not straightforwardly “applied” – although understanding drivers of flowering phenology across a bunch of species is important for a bunch of reasons.


Hey Patrick, I would suggest seeking out a postdoctoral fellowship that has some research funds to play with. NSF, Smith, Libro Eros, Nature Conservancy, all might be a good fit. I was a smith fellow and it was a fantastic opportunity. I’d be happy to chat more if it would be helpful.

One of the ways you can involve more participatory action with your modeling is for efforts to fill in gaps, and assess biases. Any opportunistic data like iNat is not as straightforward to analyze as systematically collected data.

Lastly, there could be some conservation- focused foundations that might be interested in a project like this. For very small grants, some native plant societies and gardening societies have pots of money for students.

Hope that helps,


Thanks for that info. Do you intend to correlate floral traits to pollinator behavior in any way?

Could you name a few?