Wildlife Research

By ACS Distance Education on January 30, 2019 in Animals, Careers & Jobs Success | comments

Most will work as fauna assessors, ecologists, environmental scientists, animal surveyors, animal trackers, botanists, zoologists, conservationist biologists, marine biologists, environmental consultants.   

Scope of Work

The type of work undertaken by a wildlife researcher depends upon the context:

  • Conservation -to maintain populations and genetic diversity
  • Pest Control - to control destructive (eg. feral) animals
  • Species Knowledge -identify unknown species, understand biology

Work may involve:

  • Detecting and identifying animals - Environmental Assessment, monitoring populations
  • Handling and examination - sometimes physically handling animals, or other analysis (eg. video)
  • Recording and analysis - statistics, photographs, information, reports
  • Reporting - collation of information, public speaking, technical writing, advocacy

Species and population researchers need to have extensive knowledge of the environment, the biology and genetics of the species they are studying, ecological principles, scientific methodology and data analyses.

What You Need to Learn

  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology– biochemistry, cell biology, tissues and organs
  • Animal Population – nutrition, life cycle, feeding mechanisms, diseases, ecology, animal behaviour
  • Animal Community - nutrition, life cycle, population ecology, general ecology
  • Animal Conservation - animal biology, habitat, types of interaction
  • Ecology – environments, climate, ecological relationships intra and interspecific
  • Genetics – DNA, gene interactions, genetic chemistry, mutations, evolution
  • Scientific Methodology – sampling design, data sampling and preservation, main methodologies
  • Data analyses – types of data, programming, statistics
  • Communications - technical writing, verbal and non verbal communication
  • Project Management

Starting a Career

Working in animal research may begin in many different ways including:

  • Any animal worker (eg. farmers, zookeepers, breeders) undertaking research for their enterprise
  • Graduating from initial work in a research organisation (eg. administration, marketing or even as basic as being an animal attendant).
  • A passion for animals may lead to writing about animals, which could eventually lead to research work
  • Conducting survey work (eg. observing/recording information on what animals do, when, where, etc.

Some start by assisting a consultant, or volunteering in a research project. This path may be slow though, as formal learning is necessary to become a researcher or scientist.

Look for a course that takes time to revisit, reinforce and embed the fundamentals of population ecology into your long-term memory.

Ways to get started may include:

  • Get a relevant job (e.g. university, consultant, farm, zoo, veterinary company)
  • Volunteer (eg. in monitoring programs, conservation projects)
  • Join organisations, attend meetings, study courses, develop contacts to mentor or assist you.

Progressing a Career

Careers in research progress by:

  • learning through study and experience
  • networking - to develop opportunities and resources
  • being involved - attending conferences, publishing work, serving on committees, building reputation

More qualifications may help; but research careers are no longer guaranteed by high qualifications. Some of the top researchers may be far less qualified than others who are unemployed and struggling to find any career success. Ensure you build strong industry networks, and always keep learning beyond formal qualifications. This will help you.

Pathways include:

  • Community educator
  • Non-profit director or executive
  • Government policy advisor
  • Field assistant or researcher
  • Conservationist
  • Documentary writer/film maker