Crown-of-Thorns Starfish research grants

Applications are invited for innovative research projects aimed at controlling Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) populations. 

Up to four grants will be awarded to conduct field work on the Great Barrier Reef in 2017. This is the third year of a four-year program. Additional funding opportunities will be available in 2018. Promising Round 3 projects can apply for additional funding in future rounds. Grants are funded under the The Ian Potter Foundation 50th Anniversary Commemorative Grants scheme.

Applications are invited from established researchers, reef managers and industry specialists. PhD and Masters candidates can apply but they need a demonstrated track record of extensive research experience and delivering results. Key areas of interest in Round 3 include but are not limited to:

  • Cost-effective and efficient methods of controlling COTS outbreaks.
  • Filling knowledge gaps about what regulates the abundance of COTS and applying that information to COTS control.
  • Reducing the severity and/or frequency of COTS outbreaks.
  • Developing an early-warning system for future outbreaks. 

We are looking for practical methods to reduce the impact of COTS on their coral prey. Projects investigating biology and ecology of COTS will be considered only if the investigator can demonstrate how the research could be used for that purpose. 


The value of each 2017 grant is nominally up to AU$25,000. Applications for smaller amounts are welcome and those for higher amounts will be considered in exceptional circumstances. For successful applicants who are employed at Australian institutions and who can thus provide an Australian tax invoice, the payment will be up to $25,000 plus GST.

Funding will be available from January 2017 and must be spent within that calendar year.

Conditions of Award

  • Funding is typically limited to paying for research conducted at LIRS including: bench fees, travel, freight, internet, research consumables and minor items of equipment. Salaries, food and items of equipment costing more than $500 must be funded from other sources. However, COTS are no longer in outbreaking numbers at Lizard Island so the funding imay be used for similar field expenses elsewhere on the Great Barrier Reef.   
  • Field work must take place during calendar 2017.
  • If field work at LIRS is planned, firm bookings must be made at LIRS within two weeks of accepting the award and an oral presentation about the research must be made by the grant recipient at LIRS during a field trip.
  • A one page report outlining progress of the project must be submitted within 30 days of the end of each field trip. A final report including details of expenditure must be received by 31 January 2018.
  • Any funds unspent at 31 December 2017 must be returned to LIRS unless carry-over arrangements are approved.
  • Publications arising from the research and any display material relating to the project must provide appropriate acknowledgement of the grant, the funding source and the facilities provided by the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station.

Selection criteria

The person:

  • Has relevant research or industry experience to undertake the proposed project.
  • Has demonstrated capacity to produce results.

The project:

  • Contains innovative and practical ideas for controlling COTS populations or for developing an early-warning system for future outbreaks. 
  • Is feasible within the limitations of budget and safety regulations.
  • Has additional funding if the grant does not cover all planned costs.
  • Enables leverage such as the involvement of collaborators funded from a source other than the grant.

Applicants acknowledge that:

  • The Australian Museum is not under any obligation to award a grant even though the application meets all guidelines and eligiblity requirements.
  • All decisions by the selection committee are final.
  • LIRS is not obligated and in most instances will not provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.
  • LIRS has the right to forward the application to other people for review and comment.
  • LIRS reserves the right to re-advertise for applications at any time.


  • Applications must be submitted to LIRS using the form provided (link below). A curriculum vitae is to be appended to the application form. The application must be sent as a single email attachment in Word format, not as a pdf. Applications will be assessed against the selection criteria.
  • To assist in preparing your application, please consult other sections of this web site to learn about LIRS facilities and the number of assistants you will need to comply with the Station’s diving and boating regulations. You are welcome to contact LIRS with any queries. Use the indicative costs as provided in the application form where applicable.

Relevant dates

Closing date for applications: 11 November 2016
Offers made to successful applicants: 16 December 2016
Funds available: January 2017

Late applications and those in which word allowances are exceeded will not be considered. Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by return e-mail. If you do not receive acknowledgement within three working days of sending your application, please contact the Research Station.


Dr Lyle Vail and Dr Anne Hoggett, Directors
Lizard Island Research Station
PMB 37, Cairns, Qld 4892
Phone: +61 7 4060 3977

Application form

Dr Anne Hoggett , Director, Lizard Island Research Station
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