Careers In Wildlife Biology– What You Need To Know

Careers In Wildlife Biology– What You Need To Know

If you love wildlife, nature, and the environment, then you can thrive and excel by studying wildlife biology at the university and making a career out of it. A profession in wildlife biology is broad and has many profitable career prospects to choose from and propel you to greater heights.

Wildlife biology is broad and includes zoology which studies animals, wildlife habitats, the natural environment, and research. It also helps examine animals and their interaction with the ecosystem. Working in the wildlife sector can be physically challenging and needs someone passionate about nature. The work of a wildlife biologist is to conduct research on both living and dead animals and study their lifestyles, behavioral patterns, and habitats. It is a broad industry that offers diverse employment options.

Education and Training 

To qualify for a profession in wildlife biology, you need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level vacancies. A master’s degree is a requirement for higher-level scientific and investigative job opportunities. Roles that involve leading independent research or those that train students at higher institutions of learning or university studies need to advance to master’s or Ph.D. levels.

To excel and thrive in a wildlife biology career, it would help if you advance your academic qualification. Most colleges offer degree programs in wildlife biology or a closely related field. An undergraduate degree in biology specializing in wildlife biology is adequate preparation for a career in wildlife, zoology, or environmental-related job opportunities.

After getting an undergraduate degree, wildlife biologists can position themselves for better investigative or scientific work vacancies by earning a master’s degree. To qualify for independent research positions, applicants need a PhD. with some working experience.

What Is The Distinction Between a Zoologist and a Wildlife Biologist? 

While the roles and duties of zoologists and wildlife biologists often overlap, zoologists usually conduct scientific investigations and research on specific animals such as birds or amphibians. In contrast, wildlife biologists study distinct ecosystems or animal populations facing extinction.

Relevant Skills For a career in Wildlife Biology

Wildlife biologists study wildlife and examine their interaction with the ecosystem. Learners studying this field can opt to take related subjects, including ecology, anatomy, wildlife management, and cellular biology. These suggestions are vital in helping you determine which subtopics to take that help you niche down and specialize. The career trajectory you take will depend on your interests and skills.

Knowledge in chemistry, botany, and physics is essential as wildlife biologists need a well-rounded scientific foundation. Some programs in this field focus on applied techniques in conservation and habitat analysis.

Also, to excel in this career path, you will need to have a background in statistics and mathematics. Understanding these fields is vital as you should be able to interpret statistics and conduct complex data analysis.

Knowledge of computer applications is also a requirement as wildlife biologists consistently use modern computer applications like modeling software and geographic information systems (GIS) to do their work.

Other unrelated but relevant skills to have to be a well-rounded wildlife expert include:

  • Capability to operate a generator.
  • Ability to drive a tractor, boat, and all-terrain vehicles.
  • Basic first aid knowledge of procedures in case of injury.
  • Animal and plant recognition abilities help obtain food while avoiding poisonous species.
  • Survival skills include lighting fires and mountain climbing.
  • Capacity to operate essential tools.

Wildlife biologists need research and investigative skills as well as other skills, including: 

Communication Skills 

As a wildlife biologist, you must be able to clearly express yourself by presenting talks to policymakers, stakeholders, and the general public to raise awareness about ecological or environmental concerns.

Critical Thinking Skills 

A career in wildlife biology demand that you perfect your research skills, data collection abilities, or analysis. The ability to interpret data, and draw relevant conclusions is also an added advantage. It would help if you have the analytical skills to make scientific observations and suggest recommendations.

Survival Skills

Learners with a desire to explore a career in wildlife biology must be ready to spend prolonged periods away from civilization with minimal human contact when collecting data. Having survival skills that include basic first aid or comprehensive knowledge of wild fruits or animals while in the forest is very important.  

To thrive in this field, you must be a good swimmer and have the stamina to navigate rough terrain. An athletic physique will come in handy when your vehicle breaks down, forcing you to trek long distances.

Problem-Solving Skills 

Working in isolation for extended periods needs someone with excellent problem-solving skills. To thrive in this field you must be able to devise possible solutions to threats that affect wildlife survival. Tackling deforestation and disease can mean going the extra mile in finding lasting solutions such as conducting advanced research.

Interpersonal Skills 

Wildlife biologists need collaborative skills to work in teams of professionals, each making an important contribution and ensuring the success of a project.

Research Skills 

A career in wildlife biology heavily relies on scientific research, data collection, a compilation of findings, and the ability to interpret those findings. The ability to collect data, digest it and create recommendations guarantees the effectiveness of the research.

Categories of Specialization in Wildlife Biology 

Entomologists 

Entomologists are exceptional biology scientists who study insects’ classification, life cycle, and insect habits, such as bees, butterflies, ants, and beetles. They learn the characteristics of insects, their relationship with other species, reproduction, movement patterns, population dynamics, and their management.

Many entomologists specialize on a specific species or group of insects. For instance, an entomologist researching bees can narrow their findings to a single species, such as the honey bee. They can further narrow the search by studying the nutrition, behavior, reproduction, disease, or pest management aspects of their species of interest.

Duties Of Entomologists 

  • Collect and analyze biological data
  • Develop and conduct experimental research with insects
  • Research insect characteristics, including reproduction, movement, environment, and disease.
  • Manage, estimate and monitor insect habitats.
  • Write academic papers, reports, and scholarly articles with findings and recommendations.

Employment Options For An Entomologist Are: 

Entomological paleontology: this is the study of insect evolution and fossils.

Forensic entomology: Using insect evidence to assist in research.

Ichthyologists 

An ichthyologist is a marine expert who studies various wild fish species such as sharks and lungfish. The bony, jawless, and cartilaginous fish classifications include studying fish history, behavior, growth arrangements, and reproduction.

Ichthyologists can work in museums, laboratories, zoos, government facilities, and universities. Generally, they spent a lot of time in the field researching different fish species.

Duties of Ichthyologist 

  • Identifying and observing fish.
  • Monitoring the quality of water in tanks.
  • Research.
  • Data evaluation.

Malacologists 

Malacologists are professionals who study mollusks, a large, diverse category of soft-bodied invertebrates, such as squids, octopuses, slugs, snails, and clams. Malacologists can work in academia, a federal agency, or a museum.

Teuthologists 

Teuytthology refers to the study of cephalopods. Teuthologists are professionals studying such as octopuses and cuttlefish.

Cetologists 

Cetology is a branch of zoology concerned with cetaceans. Cetologists are professionals who seek to demystify and explain cetacean evolution, distribution, morphology, and behavior. It is the study of marine mammals, including dolphins and whales.

Herpetologists 

Herpetologists are zoologists studying reptiles and amphibians such as frogs, lizards, and snakes. Herpetology has two broad units:

Basic herpetology – the study of amphibians and reptiles. It includes studying their origin, relationship with other species, behavior, development, and growth. Their responsibilities include working in museums as taxonomists-experts responsible for naming and classifying species.

Applied herpetology – acquired information application to a specific situation. These professionals work as curators managing different breeds of reptiles in parks and zoos.

Herpetologists also play an educative role in sensitizing the public about these species. They’re also highly sought after by medical teams in treating snakebites.

Employment Opportunities For Herpetologists

Herpetologists can work in educational institutions, snakebite serum manufacturing firms, article writing opportunities, and occasionally make appearances on nature conservation shows.

Ornithologists 

Ornithologists are scientific researchers who study birds such as hawks and penguins. They conduct laboratory and field research to understand the behavior, migration mannerisms, and habitats of different bird species. They spend extended periods examining birds.

Duties of an ornithologist include:

  • Field research to analyze habitat requirements, reproduction, and migration.
  • Examining and monitoring the health of different species.
  • Tracking movement, collecting data, and studying it.
  • Developing policies and implementing advocacy policies for safety purposes.

Field of Study

Anatomy 

There are three broad classifications of anatomy, and they include:

Human anatomy – is the study of organisms of the human body.

Animal anatomy – is also referred to as zootomy

Plant anatomy – also known as phytotomy

Zoogeography 

Zoogeography is the study of biology concerned about the distribution of animals. It also examines the causes, effects, and interactions.   

Embryology 

Embryology involves researching the development of fetuses and embryos.

Teratology 

Teratology involves researching abnormal physiological development.

Ethology 

Ethology or behavioral ecology studies animal behavior and its natural and adaptive traits.

Soil zoology 

Soil zoology is the study of living things in the soil.

Physiology 

Physiology is the study of the functioning of living systems.

Histology 

Histology or microscopic anatomy studies cells and tissues in plants and animals.  

Most wildlife students acquire practical experience through volunteering, internship, and entry-level positions. Practical experience can give you the confidence to apply for better jobs with additional responsibilities. With time, you will gain relevant skills and greater responsibility and independence as you progress in your career.

Experienced zoologists and wildlife biologists with a Ph.D. qualify to lead independent research, control procedures, the source for funding, and direct projects.

What Are The Duties Of A Wildlife Biologist?

As a wildlife biologist, you will have many responsibilities, including:

Research 

Ability to carry out scientific tests and experiments. For instance, they take blood samples from animals to analyze their nutritional levels, check for disease and parasites, and track animals.

Wildlife biologists carry out research for various reasons. For instance, these professionals work towards gaining knowledge and understanding of wildlife species. Many wildlife biologists research methodologies to encourage wildlife populations to support recreational hunting or tourism.

Wildlife biologists and zoologists work with other scientists and technicians, such as environmental scientists and hydrologists, to analyze and monitor water pollution and gauge its effects on fish populations.

Conservation 

These experts work hand in hand with critical stakeholders in conservation efforts to protect wildlife species from threats, assist animals in returning to their habitat, and encourage settlement. They organize conferences that bring together stakeholders in different sectors to sensitize the masses on the need to protect and conserve wildlife habitats.

Study Animals 

Wildlife biologists use modeling software, geographical information systems (GIS), and other computer software to estimate wildlife populations and track animal movement. They use technology to forecast the spread of invasive species or diseases, analyze changes in habitat availability, and assess any other potential threat to wildlife.

Benefits of A Career in Wildlife Biology

Close interaction with animals

As a wildlife expert, you can be part of a study that provides cures for diseases while improving habitats to deliver a better quality of life for wild animals.

Diverse Opportunities 

A career in wildlife biology is exhaustive and presents diversity in employment opportunities. It means that if you tire or outgrow one line of work, then you have a chance to branch out to a different but related field.

Working for profit or non-profit organizations, government-supported projects, or carrying out research for the private sector are common employment industries that wildlife biologists can explore. Shifting from a wildlife game reserve expert to an ecological research position is a helpful way for a wildlife biologist to shift career posts while gaining additional experience.

Conservation

A career in wildlife biology gives you an excellent opportunity to champion the rights of wild animals by creating awareness and sensitizing the public on animal rights. Human interference such as deforestation has recently contributed to human-wildlife conflict. Deforestation is another challenge that destabilizes the eco-system leading to global warming challenges.

As a wildlife crusader, you can make a positive contribution by challenging policymakers and educating communities on the benefits of preserving environments and wildlife conservation. All stakeholders must rally together and make the environment a better, more habitable place for wildlife survival and future generations. Finding workable solutions to a menace like poaching can lead to international recognition and opportunities for donor funding.

Travel Benefits 

During their careers, wildlife biologists will likely encounter varying work environments that necessitate extensive traveling. They frequently travel for research and data collection purposes. Wildlife biologists passionate about adventure and sightseeing can immensely benefit from a wildlife-related career. They work in environments that include museums, wildlife parks, zoos, and the jungle. The best thing about it is that as a wildlife biologist, you get fantastic sightseeing opportunities while on work-related assignments.

Collaboration 

Learners engaging in wildlife biology gain immensely from working with scientists and researchers worldwide. By collaborating with like-minded professionals, research projects have a greater chance of success. Professionals in this sector have a fantastic opportunity of undertaking advanced research to develop new inventions beneficial to environmental conservation and wildlife management.

Career Growth And Diversification 

With a degree in biology, a new graduate has the opportunity to specialize in any wildlife-related field. Whether you choose to concentrate on animal welfare, environmental conservation, or desire to be an educator by working in the ministry of education, the opportunities are limitless.

With a zoology or wildlife degree, you may start your career in the jungle but retire in the classroom, imparting your experience and vast knowledge to students in higher learning institutions. Additionally, many different but related courses can support your career choice.

Drawbacks 

Climate 

Usually, zoologists study animals that live in habitats with unpredictable or extreme weather patterns. For instance, those who work with polar bears or penguins spend long periods in freezing climates, while those who work with tropical animals like apes, birds, and exotic birds have to contend with extreme heat.

Long Working Hours 

A zoologist in the field experiences setbacks, making scheduling difficult because of animals’ diverse sleeping patterns, eating habits, and health concerns. Also, the animals need round-the-clock attention and care; hence you may have to work over the weekends and public holidays. Field research forces zoologists to move to remote places where they camp and reside for prolonged periods to study animals.

Injuries  

Most of these experts interact with wild animals while spending significant amounts of time outdoors in challenging terrains and harsh weather as they collect data. To avoid injury, they should trade cautiously when working in remote areas where there’s human-animal interaction.

Work Schedules 

Many zoologists and wildlife biologists work round the clock. Sometimes, their work schedule involves irregular hours in the field. Those researching nocturnal animals need to dedicate several hours of the night working. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

1. What Are The Career Opportunities For A Student Studying Wildlife Biology? 

  • Veterinary healthcare worker.
  • Research scientist.
  • Animal nutritionist.
  • Toxicologist
  • Environmental conservationist
  • Biomedical scientist.
  • University lecturer.
  • Science columnist.

2. What Does A Degree In Wildlife Biology Comprise? 

A wildlife biology degree entails the completion of coursework in wildlife conservation animal behavior and zoology. It also involves extensive study in biology, statistics, chemistry, botany, and environmental law.

3. What Are The Responsibilities Of A Wildlife Biologist?

Study animal habitats to save endangered species conduct environmental research, study ecosystems, plant and animal study, classification, and management.

4. How Do Wildlife Biologists Assist The Environment? 

Researching on the human and environmental impact on growth and survival of species.

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