Small Research Grants

These grants support scientific ecological research where there are limited alternative sources of funding. Small projects can be awarded up to £5,000.


We support projects where there is a clear ecological science focus to the work; any other aspects, i.e. sociology, economics, etc., must be clearly integrated into the ecology and scientific goals of the project.

This grant aims to support work of the highest international standard. Applicants will need to show how the work will advance ecological science.

This grant is open to all ecologists across the world, regardless of their career stage, but we welcome applications from early career ecologists, in particular, to help establish an independent research career in ecology.

Early career in this instance, is defined as anyone completing their PhD or being in the first five years of their ecologist/research career (not including career breaks, please see statement at the bottom of this page for more information on what is considered a career break).

This grant can be used for new and innovative ecological research, such as novel approaches in a well studied site, or established approaches in a novel site.

Examples of past successful grant applications can be found here. 

To Apply

There will be two rounds of funding in 2024. 

  • The first round of funding will open on January 11th 2024
  • The second round of funding will open on July 11th 2024


When applications open, register/log into our online grants system, complete your contact details, and navigate to ‘Your Applications’.

We aim to notify all applicants within two months of the grant deadline.

Applicants are only able to submit one grant application per round, across all grant schemes.

Small Research Grants should run for a maximum of 12 months. Any projects running for longer than this should be clearly outlined and justified in the submitted application.

It is a condition of all of our grant schemes that applicants submit a report within three months of the end date of your ard. Reports will be submitted via our online grants system.


Round 1
Applications open on January 11th. The deadline to apply during Round 1 is March 8th. You will be notified in late May regarding the outcome of your application.

If you apply during round 1, projects should start from early June 2024 to early December 2024 and be completed within 12 months of the start date.

Round 2
Applications open on July 11th. The deadline to apply during Round 2 is September 11th. You will be notified in late November regarding the outcome of your application.

If you apply during round 2, projects should start from early December 2024 to early June 2025 and be completed within 12 months of the start date

Eligibility and Conditions

Small Research Grants, up to £5,000:

  • Must have BES membership.
  • These grants are awarded to individuals, not organisations.
  • Applicants cannot use a Research Grant to fund a component of a larger, already-funded study. We understand that there may be additional contributors to the project, but our contribution must make up the majority of the project funding or form a recognisable and distinct component which would otherwise not take place.
  • Funding is unavailable for work that will form part of an undergraduate degree, masters degree or fellowship.
  • Applications to take part in an expedition will not be considered, for example ”Operation Wallacea,” We shall consider applications for a stand-alone research project that takes place during an expedition.
  • Applicants are responsible for obtaining all relevant permits and permissions required to undertake the proposed work.
  • Projects can take place anywhere in the world. For projects outside the country where the researcher is based, they must demonstrate liaison with collaborating organisations, local environmental agencies, NGOs and/or communities within the country where the project is taking place.
  • We will not award more than one grant to any one applicant in any one year, and no more than three grants in any five year period.
  • Failure to submit a satisfactory report at the end of a grant will mean the grantee is ineligible to apply for further grants.

Further eligibility criteria for PhD students

  • PhD students with access to research funding can not use this grant as a ‘top-up.’
  • PhD students can apply for funding for research that is seperate from their currently funded PhD research.
  • PhD students who only have their salary covered can apply to fund a distinct research component of their PhD.


  • Selected projects can be awarded up to £5,000
  • There are no restrictions on where applicants come from or where they conduct their research work.
  • Reasonable travel costs will be supported. All costs must be clearly justified within the budget section. Any costs that are not justified will not be considered.
  • Funding is available for the employment of casual and short-term assistance (short term defined as no longer than 11 months), which conforms to the national minimum wage.
  • The purchase of small items of equipment which are essential for the successful completion of the project and consumable or recurrent costs are also acceptable.

Funding is not available:

  • For single items of equipment costing more than £2,000.
  • For overheads.
  • To supplement the salary of the applicant.
  • To cover tuition fees.
  • To cover conference fees or publication costs

We will not cover the salary of the principal researcher, bench fees or the direct costs for hiring departmental vehicles. Living costs and subsistence will be covered where this is essential to the project being completed. These costs need to be justified within the budget section to be considered.

It is a condition of all grants that our contribution is acknowledged in any publication or publicity that may arise from this study. Please notify us of any publications supported by this funding.

This grant is not a scholarship; scholarship requests will not be considered.

Statements of Support

Each application requires two reference statements, one personal statement and one supporting letter.

You do not need to prepare separate documents. Your references will be contacted through Flexigrant using the reference emails that you provide with questions about how they know the applicant and why they support the project.

The personal statement should be from a supervisor/employer, etc.

The supporting letter should be from a supporting host Institution/organisation of the proposed research. If the applicant is an undergraduate/master/fellowship.student, the support statement should verify that the proposed project is not part of their degree or thesis.

You cannot submit your application until both references have been completed on Flexigrant.

We cannot accept referee statements sent independently via email or by letter.

Career Break Statement

Parental leave, ill health and caring commitments are included as an extenuating circumstances. The total time of leave will be deducted from the total time that you are post PhD. For example, if you are 6 years post PhD we would expect you to be able to show you had been off for nearing on a year in order to be eligible. For queries, please contact:

Assessment Criteria

Applications are reviewed and scored based on:

  • The excellence of the ecological research being proposed, including the scientific impact, and how this impact will be shared.
  • The feasibility of the proposal.
  • The capability and promise of the applicant.
  • The value for money and justification of the resources requested.

Where an application is associated with an existing funded project, the proposal’s relationship to that existing project needs to be made explicit in the proposal. The research should be distinct from timetabled teaching activities and should primarily have been planned and organised by the applicant.

Three members of our review college will review and score your applications. We have over 350 active Review College members from across the world. Review college members will have knowledge but may not be experts in your field of research, so please try to avoid acronyms and ensure that the project is explained clearly.

Scoring Criteria

View the scoring criteria to find out how your application will be assessed.

As part of our commitment to support the recommendations and principles set out by the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA;, applicants should not use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles. Our Review College are also asked not to consider such journal metrics when reviewing applications.

Supporting Ecologists in the Global South

Our commitment to supporting Ecologists in the Global South can be found here.

We recognise the challenges ecologists across the Global South face in their science and research. We have set a target that at least 51% of our available grant funding will be allocated to Ecologists in the Global South.

Awards will be made to successful applications across all our grant schemes rather than having a separate grant scheme.

To be eligible for Global South funding, you must be a citizen of and working/studying in a Global South country. This question will be asked during the application process.

Re-submission Policy

We do not accept re-submissions of the same project. Applications will be rejected without review if they are re-submissions of a proposal rejected in a previous round, or if they represent only a minor revision of such a proposal (for example, with a modified experimental design). As a guide, to be significantly different, at least 80% of objectives and activities should be different to the original proposal.

Past Awards

You can view past awarded applications via the link below.

Previously awarded research projects

For any grant related enquires, please contact:

John L. Harper Fellowship Fund 

Thanks to a generous legacy donation, we can award an additional small research grant each year to commemorate the life and work of John L. Harper.  

Priority will be given to research projects that are broadly consistent with the research themes advanced by the late John L. Harper, namely investigations that include detailed study of populations, and which follow the fate of plant populations for prolonged periods (e.g. generations, or over periods of years). Studies that include investigations of organisms that have ecologically important interactions with plant populations shall also be considered. 

There is no separate application process, and all eligible small research applications will be considered. If you are awarded a John L. Harper fellowship, you will be notified via email.