What is a Wildlife Biologist?
Wildlife biologists are scientists who observe and study the behaviors of animals. They examine factors such as disease, nutrition, habitat relationships, and population dynamics. They investigate the impact of environmental change on species survival and growth rates. They scrutinize the interactions between wildlife and their ecosystems and between wildlife and human beings. They predict how land use decisions will impact wildlife and the ecosystems they depend on.
The work carried out by wildlife biologists is about as varied as wildlife itself. Because of the wide scope of the field, many wildlife biologists eventually specialize in an area of study defined by a species or ecosystem. In other words, wildlife biologists are entomologists, who study insects; arachnologists, who study spiders, scorpions, and pseudoscorpions (collectively called arachnids); herpetologists, who study amphibians and reptiles; ichthyologists, who study fish; mammalogists, who study mammals; ornithologists, who study birds; and marine biologists, who study marine animals.
What does a Wildlife Biologist do?
Careers in wildlife science and management can be broad or specialized, depending on the nature and scope of research or region of the world. The duties associated with the wildlife biologist’s job can therefore vary considerably. Still, there are tasks which are common to most roles, such as:
- Plan and coordinate wildlife assessment activities and research
- Act as advocate and spokesperson for wildlife and ecosystem concerns within their scope of research
- Interact with other scientists, professionals, and advocacy groups to preserve and monitor habitats and populations in the wild and in protection
- Draft reports and presentations for internal and external stakeholders, policy-makers, and the public
- Collect samples and conduct observational research in the lab, the field, and protected environments
- Monitor and document animal behavior in the lab, the field, and protected environments
- Make sure data / specimen collection and recordkeeping are accurate and adhere to relevant safety procedures
- Communicate with national, regional, and international initiatives in order to share information and assessment data
- Continually review current research and scientific literature in the field
- Consult on and implement habitat mitigation and remediation measures
- Consult on environmental and site assessments as they affect wildlife biology
- Travel to temporary field assignments in remote locations
- Conduct and/or oversee wildlife population surveys
- Provide information and expert testimony for ecological and environmental impact assessments
- Provide technical expertise related to wildlife survey design
- Prepare wildlife management plants
- Monitor trends of wildlife populations
- Consult on how to best mitigate the impacts of development on wildlife
- Evaluate and adjust hunting limits for hunted species
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What is the workplace of a Wildlife Biologist like?
While wildlife biologists work in offices and laboratories, they also spend significant time in the field studying animals in their natural habitats and gathering data. Some fieldwork may occur in remote locations and difficult terrain such as deserts or mountainous and woodland regions. Biologists studying marine animals may spend months at sea on a research ship. The job, therefore, can involve travel.
Fieldwork, of course, can take place in all types of weather and in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. Assignments at sea can lead to seasickness and extended periods away from family, home, and civilization in general can be emotionally demanding.
The majority of wildlife biologists work full time. When conducting fieldwork, they often work long or irregular hours. For those studying and needing to observe nocturnal animals, night shifts are common. Wildlife biologists may need to have certain outdoor skills to effectively carry out specific assignments. For instance, the ability to drive a tractor, boat, or ATV may be necessary. And they may be required to provide for themselves in remote locations.
The most common employers of wildlife biologists are state and federal governments, accounting for about two-thirds of the workforce. Other employers include management, scientific, and technical consulting services; state, local, and private colleges, universities, and professional schools; and research and development institutes dedicated to the physical, engineering, and life sciences.
Wildlife Biologists are also known as:
Fisheries Biologist Conservation Resources Management Biologist Fish and Wildlife Biologist Aquatic Biologist Habitat Biologist Wildlife Manager Wildlife Scientist