Biologist: Wildlife & Zoologist
Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Physical Geography
Overview: Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. They study the physical characteristics of animals, animal behaviors, the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats, and perform a variety of scientific tests and experiments. For example, they take blood samples from animals to assess their nutrition levels, check animals for disease and parasites, and tag animals in order to track them. Although the roles and abilities of zoologists and wildlife biologists often overlap, zoologists typically conduct scientific investigations and basic research on particular types of animals, such as birds or amphibians, whereas wildlife biologists are more likely to study specific ecosystems or animal populations, such as a particular at-risk species. Wildlife biologists also do applied work, such as the conservation and management of wildlife populations. Zoologists generally specialize first in either vertebrates or invertebrates and then in specific species. Many people with a zoology and wildlife biology background become high school teachers or college or university professors.
Zoologists and wildlife biologists conduct research for a variety of purposes. For example, many zoologists and wildlife biologists work to increase our knowledge and understanding of wildlife species. Traditionally, many wildlife biologists researched ways to encourage abundant game animal populations to support recreational hunting and tourism. Today, many also work with public officials in conservation efforts that protect species from threats and help animal populations return to and remain at sustainable levels. Most zoologists and wildlife biologists work on research teams with other scientists and technicians. For example, zoologists and wildlife biologists may work with environmental scientists and hydrologists to monitor water pollution and its effects on fish populations.
Geographic skills are essential for zoologists and wildlife biologists. Zoologists and wildlife biologists use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to estimate wildlife populations and track the movements of animals. They also use these computer programs to forecast the spread of invasive species or diseases, project changes in the availability of habitat, and assess other potential threats to wildlife.
Geographers at work: Environmental geographers, biogeographers, zoogeomorphologists
Recommended College Courses: Environmental geography, biogeography, geographic information science, remote sensing, natural resource use and management, climatology, physical geography
Skills: Environmental mapping and modeling, geographic information systems, computer and database systems, spatial analysis, understanding and assessment of physical features (soils, topography, hydrology); map reading and interpretation
Occupation Group: Life, Physical, and Social Science
Learn more about Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson