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Awards Supporting the Future of Lepidoptera Conservation

The Xerces Society offers annual awards to support students pursuing educational research in Lepidoptera conservation. We're investing in the future of our planet and our field by sponsoring the next generation of butterfly and moth conservationists through these grants. 

 

Monarch caterpillar right after hatching

One previous awardee studied how invasive fire ants could be affecting monarch butterflies' reproductive success.

Great spangled fritillary butterfly on flower

Another recent awardee focused on how land use affects butterfly population connectivity and genetic structure. 

Person searching for insects with a butterfly net

The Xerces Society's roots are in butterfly conservation, before we expanded to invertebrates overall. 

Luna moth on branch

Lepidoptera conservation research can focus on any element of these important animals. 

2024 DeWind Awardees

In 2024, two $10,000 awards were given to outstanding research supporting moth conservation in urban areas, chosen from a competitive group of applicants.

Lillian Hendrick: Evaluating micromoth species richness and phenology across an urban gradient in a classroom setting

University of Florida, Department of Biology

Micro-moths, except for pest species, are perhaps the least studied group of lepidopterans, with little known about their response to anthropogenic effects such as habitat fragmentation. This study will use a molecular-based approach to generate and identify moth species from their genetic barcodes, or COI gene, to assess micro-lepidopteran species richness across an urban gradient, among other questions such as phenological shifts and Wolbachia presence. This will allow us to gather a baseline on how habitat fragmentation and human development impact this understudied group. Furthermore, the project’s analyses will be done in conjunction with undergraduates taking a research course.

Lillian Hendrick with moth caterpillar on hand

Lucy Guarnieri: Investigating the value of urban greening for moth conservation in a growing city

The Ohio State University, Department of Entomology

Urbanization is driving moth decline worldwide, yet few studies have investigated the impact of urban greening for moth conservation. This study will test an urban community assembly framework to determine how the size and landscape context of conservation interventions influences moths. The hypothesis is that large habitats in suburban landscapes will support the greatest alpha species and functional trait diversity. Guarnier also predicts that even small habitat investments in densely developed landscapes can benefit moths, as compared to turf-based greenspaces. The results of this project will be published in peer-reviewed journals and a habitat management guide for stakeholders will be developed.

Lucy Guarnieri with research tools near pollinator habitat in an urban setting

Award Submission Process and Requirements 

DeWind Awards are given to students who are engaged in studies and research leading to a university degree related to Lepidoptera conservation and who intend to continue to work in this field. All proposals must be written by the student researcher. Proposed research should have a clear connection to Lepidoptera conservation and must be completed within one year from receiving funds. Applicants may be graduate or undergraduate students; however, please note that all but one awardee, to date, have been pursuing graduate research. Applications from countries outside the United States will be considered but must be written in English and international applicant work cannot involve work in the United States.

The application period for the 2025 DeWind Awards will open in November 2024.

Joan Mosenthal DeWind's Legacy

Joan Mosenthal DeWind was a pioneering member of the Xerces Society. A psychiatric social worker by profession, she was also an avid butterfly gardener and an accomplished amateur lepidopterist. Her contributions of time, organizational expertise, and financial support were essential to the early growth and success of the Xerces Society, and helped found a robust organization that continued to expand in the decades since and become a conservation leader. Joan also had a keen interest in young people, supporting what became the Young Entomologists’ Society. In Joan’s memory, Bill DeWind established this student research endowment fund. The Xerces Society administers two awards each year for research into Lepidoptera conservation.