Careers in Conservation Biology
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What is “conservation biology?”
Conservation biology is the scientific study of how to maintain and restore habitats and protect wildlife. They provide the necessary scientific information for sustainable land and water management.
What do conservation biologists do?
Analyze current environmental situation, including population and distribution of plants and animals.
Analyze current environmental degradation and their causes.
Analyze the needs of flora and fauna in the area.
Propose methods of improving the health of the ecosystem.
Consult with government, conservation agencies, and industry to develop land and water management plans.
Help restore healthy ecosystems.
Educate the public about threats to the health of ecosystems.
What types of organizations hire conservation biologists?
National, state, and local governmental agencies, such as Department of Natural Resources.
Environmental consulting firms.
Conservation and environmental advocacy organizations.
Educational and research institutes.
What does it take to become effective in conservation biology?
Broad, interdisciplinary knowledge of the wide range of environmental issues.
Expertise in biology, with supplemental expertise in chemistry and geology.
Knowledge of economic, social, and political forces involved in environmental degradation.
Ability to analyze a wide range of factors in the current conditions in an ecosystem.
Ability to analyze the causes of environmental degradation.
Ability to analyze what is required for a healthy ecosystem.
Ability to determine what economic, social, and political policies are needed for a healthy ecosystem.
Familiarity with relevant computer programs.
Ability to use G.I.S. is a plus.
Ability to communicate scientific information to the public.
Ability to see the complexity of an environmental situation, including issues of value and ethics.
Field experience in advanced science classes.
Additional field experience in internships and summer work.
Scientific curiosity that leads to a drive to discover empirical facts.
Openness to the scientific, social, and philosophical complexity of issues.
Commitment to the health of the environment.
So what should I do during college?
Major or minor in Environmental Studies in order to get a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues.
Major in biology.
Get practical experience in conservation biology through internships and summer work.
Cultivate the skills and qualities mentioned above.
Should I get a graduate degree?
A graduate degree is expected for many jobs, and it certainly helps you obtain the type of employment you want. A M.S. degree in conservation biology, ecology, or environmental science is particularly valuable.
What are some examples of actual job listings in conservation biology?
Description: Audubon’s 4000 acre Starr Ranch Sanctuary in southeast Orange County, California solicits applicants for a position as biologist-educator. We seek a field ecologist who wants to contribute to wildland conservation by communicating his/her passion for field research through education.
Responsibilities: will include planning and instruction of science-based education programs for all ages as part of our “Starr Ranch Field Ecology Programs,” which connect people of all ages to nature through participation in ecological research. Will develop and teach classes, nature walks, and programs for all ages on natural history and field research topics. Examples of our current offerings include Ecology Programs – short, 1-2 hour programs in which participants experience the scientific process during simulations of field studies on wildlife and their habitats; Ranch Research - public involvement in actual field studies through classes and ongoing research projects; Starr Ranch Junior Biologists – kids participate in the scientific process through observation, exploration, and field research.
Qualifications: Master’s degree in a biological or ecological science. Background in field research with a strong desire to integrate ecological research into education programs for people of all ages. Some form of teaching experience desirable but not required. Strong knowledge and interest in learning natural history of animals and their habitats as well as research techniques for studying a variety of taxa, including mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and invertebrates. Experience and academic background in biological or ecological field research essential for formulating hypotheses, teaching research techniques, and summarizing data. GIS experience highly desirable. We seek applicants who are enthusiastic, dedicated, organized, self starting and thorough. Opportunity to do field research that is fully integrated into education programs. Position starts June, 2004.
Terms: Salary: $40,000 plus benefits.
Habitat Restoration Specialist
Description: Private corporation needs expert in habitat restoration.
Research: Literature, Archival, Database, Interviews, Internet, Contact Report Forms, Species Accounts, References, Meeting and Scoping Notices and Multi-subject Memoranda for the Record (MFR), Assist with Technical Reports, and Annual Reports.
Input to Environmental Documents: Status reports, project location, project elements, construction scenario, regulatory framework, existing conditions, significance thresholds, impact analysis, mitigation measures, alternatives analysis, response to comments, habitat restoration/management plans.
Project Management: Coordinate/Manage projects, attend strategic planning session with client.
Marketing: Provide input to scopes of service, cost estimates, and schedules for letter proposals, sub-contract agreements, scheduling of proposal work and jobs in time management system, provision of input to scopes of service, cost estimates, and schedules for larger proposals.
Field Work: Documentation of floral resources in support of existing conditions, general and focused flora surveys, mapping baseline resources, field notes, construction monitoring, mitigation monitoring, use of Planimeter and hand-held G.P.S., post-processing, design strategy of undertaking and completing field efforts. State and Federal permit, sub consultant coordination, implement resource agency protocols.
Community Outreach: Coordination and participate and assist in the running of scoping meetings, recording of community issues. Review/interpret agency comments, presentations at public, client, or agency meetings.
Qualifications: Master's degree in Biology, Botany, Environmental Sciences, Ecology or other related field required or a Bachelor's degree and 4 to 5 years of experience in environmental consulting or regulatory agency work required.
ESA, CEQA and/or NEPA experience required.
Must be knowledgeable of Southern California flora and plant communities
The ideal candidate must be detail oriented, have a professional demeanor, possess strong organizational skills and have the ability to manage multiple projects and priorities in fast-paced environment.
Description: Marian College is seeking a highly motivated individual to work with the EcoLab Director and the Director of Campus Operations doing environmental restoration, maintenance, and volunteer activities in the EcoLab. The EcoLab is 55 acres of wetland and lowland forest that was originally a landscape designed by Jens Jensen in 1912 using native plants and is now part of Marian College’s Indianapolis, IN campus. It is currently being used by Marian College as an environmental learning laboratory, an environmental and historical education tool for the local community, and a location for basic and applied ecological research.
- develop and implement habitat restoration plans for the EcoLab including plantings, maintenance of plantings, historic vegetation restoration, and exotic species removal
- collaborate with faculty and students of Marian College in restoration ecology research and monitoring being done in conjunction with the EcoLab project
- coordinate and lead restoration/conservation projects for volunteer adults, Marian students, and K-12 school groups
- perform basic trail maintenance including fixing erosion problems, minor boardwalk construction and reconstruction, keeping trails clear, and etc.
- At least a B.S. degree in biology, ecology, or natural resources (advanced degree preferred)
- Strong knowledge and experience in habitat restoration in the Midwest
- Strong knowledge of Indiana flora and fauna
- Experience in historic landscape restoration
- Experience with ecological research and GIS
- Experience leading volunteer and student work parties
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Experience in trail work, a strong back, and proven work ethic
- Ability to conduct sustained, self-directed work with minimal supervision.
Terms: commensurate with credentials and experience.