A program that focuses on the application of biological principles to the study of vertebrate wildlife, wildlife habitats, and related ecosystems in remote and urban areas. Includes instruction in animal ecology; adaptational biology; urban ecosystems; natural and artificial habitat management; limnology; wildlife pathology; and vertebrate zoological specializations such as mammalogy, herpetology, ichthyology, ornithology, and others.
Wildlife biologists work with wildlife, focusing largely on animals and sometimes plants or other wild organisms.
They tend to focus on how animals relate to their environments, which can include study of the behavioral traits they exhibit and monitoring of human impact on animal habitats. It's important for wildlife biologists to have both a commitment to the well-being of the natural world and an understanding of its components. Plants, animals, and microorganisms, as well as land, water, and air all contribute to shifts in the behavior or patterns of wildlife, and a significant shift in a single population can cause a domino effect that spreads to other areas.
Many wildlife biologists are concerned with conserving wild species threatened by imbalance or human activity. This can involve a lot of field work, and it can range from domestic exploration to international rural travel. To be prepared for this kind of work, biologists need to combine their keen observational skills with survival skills and physical readiness. They need to be prepared to spend time outside in all kinds of weather, gathering precise information about wilderness environments, and must also have a handle on lab techniques and scientific methodology.
Work in wildlife biology may include...
- Traveling to observe animals in their natural habitats
- Tagging and tracking wild animals to collect data on their movement
- Conducting lab research on collected specimens
- Working to support conservation efforts
- Evaluating the impact of changing ecosystems on animals
The work environment of a wildlife biologist depends largely on their subject of study. Some work independently, while others may be part of group expeditions to dangerous or extreme terrain. Field work can take a wildlife biologist all over the map, but home base is usually a university or research facility. Nature centers and conservatories like to have wildlife biologists on hand as caretakers or educators, and nonprofits will sometimes employ them as consultants or advocates for environmental causes. Some work for federal agencies as researchers or program managers tasked with tracking or managing wildlife populations.
Becoming a wildlife biologist involves dedication and an understanding of biology. Most begin their studies in natural science at the undergraduate level with coursework in microbiology, animal behavior, statistics, and ecology. Obtaining a Bachelor's degree makes it possible to enter the field, though more advanced positions tend to be reserved for candidates with graduate degrees. Master's and PhD programs in wildlife biology provide opportunities for students to conduct independent research and develop their skills, and open doors for further learning.
Studying wildlife can illuminate all kinds of issues arising in the natural world. If you want to work in the wild, a career in wildlife biology could be a great path to pursue.
For more information, please follow the links below:
- The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization and is committed to protecting its natural resources, cherished landscapes, and diverse wildlife.
- The Wildlife Society is an international organization committed to addressing issues that affect the current and future status of wildlife and provides career and professional development to members.