What Does A Wildlife Biologist Do?
Steve Irwin chasing and trapping crocodiles in Australia and Jane Goodall studying chimpanzees in Tanzania are the more famous examples of wildlife biologists whose works are known throughout the world. Wildlife biologists are known for their efforts of conservation and preservation of wildlife species. They study the interaction of wildlife with their environment and look for ways to enhance wildlife habitat and find solutions to problems faced by various species.
While some wildlife biologists may choose to study only a particular type of species or habitat, they are generally interested in all animal species. They are particularly passionate in addressing the fast-occurring extinction of many species not only to hunting and consumption but to a wide and complicated array of ecological, political and sociological issues.
Wildlife biologists work to preserve the habitat of various animal species. People and their activities have encroached on their living space which have deprived animals not only of food, water and shelter but also of an area where they can perform their other biological needs that perpetuate the continued existence of the species. To help in habitat preservation, wildlife biologists analyze the impact of human activity and conduct research. Based on their findings, they develop conservation plans and recommend these to stakeholders which include policymakers and the general public.
Aside from conserving wildlife species, wildlife biologists also see to it that other species don’t dominate in one particular area and end up becoming pests. For instance, they look at conventional agriculture and forestry practices because these can pave the way for some species like birds and rodents to grow uncontrolled in one area and cause ecological damage. This also greatly affects other species and human beings.
Wildlife biologists must be knowledgeable about the dynamics involving the interactions that are ecological, sociological, economic and cultural by nature that have an effect on the preservation and conservation of wildlife species as well as that of people’s land use practices. They then relay the information they have gathered in their research and make the public and government stakeholders understand the significance of these relationships.
In order for wildlife biologists to gather the data they need, they usually come up with experimental studies of animals. These can happen either in a controlled environment or in the animal’s natural habitat. Part of their work involves gathering biological data like stool and blood samples which can be brought in the laboratory for analysis. They also employ observation in their studies, looking at animal characteristics and their interaction with other species. They also study the reproduction, diseases and movement patterns of these animals.
To disseminate information, wildlife biologists write and publish research, reports and scholarly articles. They also present their findings in schools and universities. In this day and age where digital media is used to spread information, they may also upload videos of their work through online platforms and post findings on websites. They can also speak in conferences and public hearings about particular policies that will impact the general public.
Wildlife biologists are mostly employed by state governments and the federal government. A good part of their work is done on the field. Depending on where they are conducting their studies, they could be staying in far-flung locations where communication lines are almost nonexistent. If the study involves marine creatures, they could stay on a research ship for months. They may also stay in mountains and forests for long periods and have to learn to live only with the barest of necessities while doing their research.
Because of the demands of this profession, wildlife biologists need to love working in the great outdoors and have a genuine love and concern for animals. They should also be physically and mentally strong since the work can entail running, lifting and staying in extreme weather conditions. Emotional strength is also an important trait that needs to be developed because they would often be working on their own for long periods of time. In the field, their work hours are long and irregular. Wildlife biologists who observe animals that are only active at night may have to reverse their work schedules so that they are able to catch the activities of these nocturnal creatures.
Career Spotlight: Biologist
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