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Call for Research and Outreach Proposals

Effective management of gopher tortoises requires science-based policy and practices.

To promote actionable science, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is funding scientific research on an annual basis using gopher tortoise mitigation contributions. Funded research projects help address knowledge gaps and inform policies and practices. These projects may vary from basic life-history studies to improving relocation methodologies. Outreach is also funded to educate the public, policy-makers, and the media about why gopher tortoise conservation matters in Florida. Funded outreach projects may include public surveys, economic impacts, and educational programs. For all projects, we encourage incorporation of gopher tortoise commensal species to maximize the conservation benefit of gopher tortoise mitigation contributions.

Please note that handling and/or possession of gopher tortoises, their eggs, or parts thereof, or conducting activities that may impact burrows is prohibited without a Scientific Collecting permit or a FWC-issued permit for relocation purposes. Refer to Appendix 14 of the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines for more information about these no-cost Protected Wildlife Permits. For projects that meet Scientific Collecting permit criteria, we recommend coordinating with Katherine Gentry in advance and submitting a scientific collecting permit application prior to the proposal submission date (permits are issued within 90 days of receiving a complete application).

Areas of current research interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Factors that enhance recipient site fidelity and overall relocation success
  • Impacts of relocated gopher tortoises on natural and adjacent gopher tortoise populations
  • Updated Florida-wide gopher tortoise population estimate
  • Compatibility of solar sites with gopher tortoises
  • Natural gopher tortoise densities by landcover community type in Florida
  • Line transect distance sampling (LTDS) survey protocol for recipient sites
  • Site fidelity of tortoises inhabiting burrows proximal to development and/or on preserves of developed property
  • Methods to reduce road mortalities
  • Efficacy of burrow survey methodologies

These areas of interest are also incorporated in the FWC Reptile and Amphibian Prioritization Needs List, which is intended to serve as a resource for FWC staff and external partners to plan and evaluate species and habitat needs. This list includes FWC staff‐identified emerging needs and information and management needs identified by the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan. Inclusion of a need in the Prioritization List depends on considerations of species threat level, biological urgency, socio‐political urgency, and feasibility. Listed information needs may be researched by FWC staff, external partners, or through a collaborative effort. This list is revised annually to update existing record progress, modify an identified need, and/or add newly identified needs.

Additional research opportunities exist for data collected by the Gopher Tortoise Program.

Data collection efforts include data captured from communications from the public about gopher tortoise concerns. This dataset is updated daily and could be used in wildlife value orientation (WVO) research, which would help address human-wildlife conflict through targeted messaging and thus aid in effecting gopher tortoise friendly behavior in the public. Additionally, citizen science data are available through the FWC Gopher Tortoise web application. This dataset is updated regularly as submissions are reviewed and approved. It includes gopher tortoise and burrow sightings, as well as information on sick, dead, or injured tortoises. LTDS survey data on public lands are also available for analysis by request and data collection is ongoing. Please contact Katherine Gentry if you are interested in learning more about these data collection efforts or would like to discuss the potential application of these datasets to gopher tortoise conservation. Please note that permitting data for authorized gopher tortoise relocation is publicly available and accessible to external users through the FWC online permit system.

Proposal Content Requirements

Please submit proposal in a Microsoft Word document. Text should be Times New Roman, size 12 font, and single-spaced.

Be sure to include the name, affiliation, address, phone, cell, and email for each investigator or applicant. 

Relate the proposed work to gopher tortoise conservation in Florida and set forth one or more specific objectives. Please list these research/outreach objectives in bullet format within the text of this section. Provide adequate information to facilitate project evaluation, including detailed expected outcomes. Extensive references to background literature are not necessary.

Succinctly outline the specific activities that will accomplish the research/outreach objective(s) (e.g., the proposed methods for data collection and analysis). Collaboration or partnering with other agencies or organizations is encouraged. Specify whether or not a Scientific Collecting permit application has been submitted for these activities, and include the application number if so.

A mid-progress status report (due December 2021) and a fiscal year final report (due June 2022) are required; simply state in the application that they will be provided. The status report will indicate progress toward the objectives and include any preliminary results. The final report should include analysis of results, discussion, and recommendations as appropriate. The research project should be presented at the FWC Research Symposium. Notation of presentations made and reprints of published results from funded projects are encouraged.

Provide a brief timeframe for the proposed work. Keep in mind that funded projects are intended to be short-term (1 to 3 years). If the proposed tasks cover more than one state fiscal year (July 1 - June 30), group them by year. Also, consider the actual activity time may be shortened within a given year due to the time necessary for establishing a formal contract or contract task assignment.

Budget form. Briefly summarize a proposed budget in terms of time-frame. Funds available for these projects vary from year to year and can be committed only on a yearly basis; thus, projects are evaluated annually for new and continued funding. For proposals spanning more than one state fiscal year, group the costs by year. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does not fund capital outlay expenses (computers, vehicles, etc.), tuition fees, or faculty salaries; university administrative overhead is limited to 10%. Keep in mind that funds are limited; cost sharing is encouraged, please list outside contributions. A typical maximum funding for a year of university-research ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. The proposal must have a completed FWC Budget Form. Failure to complete will prevent your proposal from being considered for FWC funding.

Note: Only government agencies and public and accredited universities/colleges are eligible for receiving these research/outreach funds. Private environmental firms and others need to contact Katherine Gentry for more details.

 

Deadline, Submission, and Notification

The deadline for submission of Proposals for FY 20-21 is April 15, 2021. Please submit proposals and budget forms to GTProposals@MyFWC.com with the project title in the subject line. Contact Katherine Gentry for any questions (email: Katherine.Gentry@myFWC.com; phone: 850-921-1028). 

Applicants with high-ranking proposals will be notified by email before July 15, 2021.