Such threats, NSF noted in announcing the latest round of grants, occurs across all geographic regions, at all levels of life, and on scales ranging from the microscopic to the oceanic.
"We're gradually evolving a broader concept of ecosystems," says Joann Roskoski, acting deputy director for NSF's division of environmental biology. The division usually approves between 15 and 18 projects each year and has so far doled out about $10.5 million since the program began.
"If you don't save a whole ecosystem, trying to save an individual species can be a wasted effort," Roskoski says. "You need to save the environment the species lives in. If not, what happens to the ability of that species to survive?"