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Aquatic and Fisheries ScienceBachelor of Science

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Aquatic and fisheries science is the study of aquatic ecosystems to increase scientific understanding and to apply basic ecological principles to their management, thereby sustaining them for multiple uses.

Aquatic ecosystems include wetlands, streams, lakes, estuaries and oceans. Aquatic science professionals study and manage valued natural systems for seafoods, drinking water, recreation, transportation and aesthetics. This field of study has a long history; for example, the American Fisheries Society was founded in 1870 and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography in 1948.

Aquatic systems and their organisms are sufficiently distinct from terrestrial systems that numerous professional organizations and scientific journals have been founded specifically to foster communication among aquatic science professionals.

At ESF, Wilford E. Dence conducted pioneering studies on aquatic systems in New York in the early 1900s. The present aquatic program at ESF builds on that early tradition with a wide array of aquatic courses. Our program has national and international recognition and includes a balance of applied and basic aquatic science. Students in our program thus have the opportunity to interact with faculty and graduate students involved with diverse studies on aquatic systems.

Undergraduate students considering a career in aquatic and fisheries science need a solid foundation of basic sciences (math, chemistry, physics, statistics) combined with a broad training in organismal biology, ecology and evolution. Upper-division courses focus more specifically on aquatic systems and fishes, including field experience, methods of assessment and principles for management. Students should broaden themselves with studies on the natural history and diversity of various animal and plant groups. Other recommended subjects include communications, ecosystem science, social and economic principles, ecological modeling, and hydrology. ESF's many field stations provide important opportunities for field-oriented studies, both for taking formal courses and for directed independent research. Practical experiences such as a senior synthesis or internship also provide an important complement to formal courses.

Career opportunities for students with a B.S. in aquatic and fisheries science are in the areas of fisheries science, wetland science, limnology, marine biology and oceanography. Jobs are with federal and state agencies, research institutions, private consulting firms and non-governmental organizations, both local and international. The better students will have opportunities to continue with graduate studies, which will broaden career options and lead to positions with greater responsibility and higher salary. To pursue a career in research and teaching in a university, a Ph.D. is generally required.

students on a boatFaculty

  • John M. Farrell; jmfarrell@esf.edu
    Fisheries Science and Management, Aquatic Ecology, Wetlands Restoration, Invasive Species.
  • Karin E. Limburg; klimburg@esf.edu
    riverine fish and estuarine ecology, fisheries ecology, watershed ecology, systems ecology, ecological economics, fisheries and ecosystem science, coupled human-natural systems, biogeochemistry, fisheries ecology, ecosystem ecology, biogeochemical tracers, modeling
  • Neil H. Ringler; nhringle@esf.edu
    fish ecology and behavior, foraging behavior of fishes, salmon reproduction, vertebrate anatomy, aquatic insect ecology, stream ecology and management, aquatic and fisheries restoration, aquatic entomology
  • Kimberly L. Schulz; kschulz@esf.edu
    nutrient and exotic species effects on aquatic ecosystems, ecological stoichiometry, aquatic community and ecosystem ecology, bioenergetics, nutrient cycling, lower food web studies, great lakes, finger lakes, plankton, limnology, aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, invasive species
  • Donald Stewart; djstewart@esf.edu
    ecology and systematics, lake systems ecology, aquatic ecology, fish conservation, ecology and population biology in tropical and temperate systems, fish ecology and fisheries management, ecological energetics, modeling predation and production processes, Great Lakes ecosystems, Amazonian ecosystems, ecology and systematics of neotropical freshwater fishes
  • Christopher Whipps; cwhipps@esf.edu
    fish parasites and diseases, wildlife diseases, parasitology, microbiology, taxonomy, molecular systematics, diagnostics, parasites as biological tags and ecological indicators, epidemiology and control of pathogens of ecological and veterinary importance, evolution and biology of disease causing organisms in animal populations using molecular systematics