The Conservation X Tech Prize—Innovating to Prevent Extinctions

Conservation X Labs announces the top 20 contestants for this year’s Con X Tech Prize focused on innovative solutions to mitigate the threat of invasive species.

The Conservation X Labs, a nonprofit technology startup, hosts an annual, global competition in which innovative solutions to some of our world’s greatest environmental challenges are awarded $20,000. Each year the organization selects a few key environmental issues to which the competitors must develop a novel mechanism that solves the problem. This year, Conversation X Labs chose invasive species and the challenges that surround management and detection.

CXL is seeking novel and transformative tools to conserve the world’s biodiversity and end human-induced species extinctions. We will support ideas that help decision-makers, conservationists, consumers, resource managers, and policy makers understand and act on conservation problems.”


Island Conservation’s GIS and Data Programs Manager, David Will, spoke to the competitors and presented the threat of invasive species on islands. He explained the threat island wildlife is under due to the presence of these introduced species and highlighted some of the challenges surrounding the removal of invasive species, including confirming zero—how to be certain that no invasive species remain on an island.

The challenge has been narrowed down to the top 20 projects each of which will receive $3,500 to make their idea a reality. Seven of this year’s projects are focused specifically on the threat of invasive species including a pig-finding drone, an amphibian refuge used to detect Chytrid Fungus in frogs, and lionfish.

A Galapagos Tortoise stretching. Credit: Rory Stansbury

A Pig-finding drone equipped with a thermal camera to seek out the invasive feral pigs on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos. Feral pigs are known to dig up Galápagos Giant Tortoise nests and eat their eggs—preventing new generations of tortoises from hatching.

An Australian Brown Tree Frog on its perch. Credit: Nga Manu Images NZ

Remote Amphibian Refuges in Guatemala designed to use recorded calls to attract frogs to a small container. Once a frog is caught, researchers will be notified and can test the frog for invasive Chytrid Fungus—a deadly fungus that inhibits a frog’s ability to breathe, by tracking the fungus researchers can hopefully work towards finding a cure and slowing the spread of the disease.

An invasive Lionfish floating through the reef. Credit: Dave Scriven

An online platform to help organize the Lionfish Supply Chain by connecting recreational divers to local processors, in an effort to reduce invasive Lionfish populations and encourage consumption of this invasive and delicious fish.

The removal of invasive species is one of the most effective conservation actions available today but is akin to a very intricate and tedious puzzle. Technology and innovation have become a cornerstone of success in the field and have proven necessary to protecting wildlife both on and off islands from the threat of introduced, invasive species.

Conservation X Labs continues to inspire the creation of innovative approaches to conservation and preventing extinctions.

Source: Mongabay
Featured photo: A juvenile Galápagos Tortoise. Credit: Island Conservation

About Nicholas Scott

Nick is an undergraduate Marine Biology student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Having spent his life exploring the ocean on California’s coast, he developed a passion and respect for it, that demanded him to pursue his interest in conservation. Volunteering for the communications team allows him to further his interests and gain more insight as to how to resolve the state of the world around us. In his spare time, Nick enjoys surfing, swimming, and spending time with friends.

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