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Supporting research on species discovery and classification

The millions of yet to be studied micro organisms hold the secrets to a better future.

Microscopic organisms, the tiniest of creatures, hold the key to understanding climate change with the goal of increasing resilience. We have everything to learn from the millions of yet to be studied living organisms. 

That's why Compound Eyes funds scientists, supports crucial research, and provides the equipment necessary to delve deep into the world of small. 


Research grants

Research grants for species discovery and classification are given to scientists in various fields such as botany, entomology, soil ecology, marine biology. Their focus is on expanding public knowledge of often overlooked species, with a preference for the cryptic.


We consider a range of research, from discovery and monitoring,new species descriptions and biochemistry of little studied species. We pay special attention to the proposals that incorporate enhanced visualization of species or biological processes. These are some examples of our 2022-2023 grantees.

See grant guidelines below.

A snail found on a cave expedition in Georgia

The Compound Eyes Foundation helped the Taxon Foundation fund their biospeleological expedition to threatened and unexplored caves in the Caucasus, which included documenting and discovery of unique cave invertebrates. These species of extremophiles have evolved novel survival mechanisms such as the ability to navigate without sight, to thrive in complete darkness and in ecosystems with no photosynthesis.

Cave species use their senses differently from their surface-living relatives. How would you adapt if you could no longer see?


The taxonomy and biology of miniscule parasitoid wasps that use aphids as hosts, provides a fascinating insight into interspecies communication and interdependence. 

Parasites and their hosts frequently engage in evolutionary arms races. New adaptations give the advantage to one side or the other, until the next adaptation changes the tide. In addition parasitoid wasps’ stingers can penetrate specific areas with surgical precision akin to the most advanced current surgical procedures such as stereotactic brain surgery used to remove tumors. Most wasps are so small that they use newly discovered mechanisms to achieve flight. This could teach us how to improve the aerodynamic performance of tiny drones.


A parasitoid wasp perches on a surface
A seed of wheat from Ukraine

Funding enabled focused-stacking imagery of never before photographed seeds, exposing the nutrient-rich caruncle structures. We were interested in this project because of the increased urgency of protecting the diversity of food crops. This is needed to ensure the resilience of global food supply.


A collection of carnivorous glands on a garden plant

By examining sundew glands - a striking example of the evolution of traits related to carnivory in plants, we are able to better understand novel adaptations that some plants have. The mechanisms behind carnivory in plants are inspiring materials scientists to come up with nanotechnology and other bio-inspired design materials with advanced functionality that could be used for cell attachment or tissue engineering. 



Biodiversity Field Surveys

Each year Compound Eyes invites an international cohort of scientists and donors to guide a regional biodiversity survey, called a “Bioblitz” for species discovery and classification. The event unfolds over a single week in late Spring, and is open to the local community. To date we have collected and identified hundreds of species. Results are confirmed by DNA barcoding and provided to the public.

Sign up to receiver more information on the event when it is available.



Grant Recipient Conference

Each year, grant recipients are invited to our field campus to share their findings on species discovery and classification. This is a curated group with researchers from complimentary fields of the natural sciences as well as the humanitarian relief community leaders. The result is a four day event where doers learn from each other and expand their methodologies.

A silk spider hanging on a web against a green background

Compound Eyes provides an innovative lab outfitted with fieldwork-friendly technologies for immediate documentation of our discoveries. Photographing living specimens reveals more of their secrets that not only increases our appreciation of their beauty but that may lead to new scientific questions.


What can an emergency medical training specialist learn from an arachnologist? She can begin to envision the power of spider silk and its surgical application.


Compound Eyes grantee observes the macro-photography process
A scientist works on classifying the species of a spider

Our first bioblitz is already producing results! We have 234 species and counting! We are using DNA barcoding and taking high resolution images of every species. All data will be made freely available. With bioblitz data, we can monitor changes in biodiversity over time, or produce rapid inventories anywhere in the world.

Scientists review their findings at the bioblitz event in Provence

Among the results of bioblitzes are pollinator surveys. Wild pollinators are also under threat from a changing environment and competition from domesticated bees, so it’s important to know which pollinators are active in your area. We seek to provide local communities with these tools.

Do you have research micro organisms and biodiversity, species discovery and classification? Compound Eyes provides grants and scholarships to individuals doing research in these fields. Submit your name and description of your research below and if applicable to our mission, we will send you a link to formally apply.


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