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Fish and Wildlife Biology & Management Area of Study for M.S., M.P.S. or Ph.D. in Environmental and Forest Biology

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Study in this area provides students with advanced preparation in biological concepts of fish and wildlife populations as they relate to resource management.

Increasing concern for these wild animal resources has been matched by strong student interest in educational programs that prepare them for careers in the fish and wildlife professions; ESF graduates are employed worldwide.

Graduate education is rapidly becoming a universal prerequisite to employment as a professional fisheries or wildlife biologist. A major strength is the diversity of cooperators including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Associate Wildlife Biologist CertificationThe Wildlife Society

Graduates can become certified as Associate Wildlife Biologists by The Wildlife Society.

Areas of research include population habitat relationships, predator ecology, fish behavior, wildlife in Adirondack ecosystems, urban wildlife relationships, endangered species studies, feeding ecology of fishes, stream ecology, Great Lakes fisheries, ecology of larval fishes and estuarine properties of Great Lakes wetlands.

ESF is a specialized unit within the SUNY system focused to natural resources and the environment. Perhaps nowhere in the world is there a larger grouping of ecologists dedicated to solving environmental problems through research, teaching and service. With a total enrollment of about 1,000 undergraduates and 600 graduate students, ESF's size creates an intimate College community. The low student/faculty ratio also allows for an active advisory system that provides personal attention and assistance for students. The proximity of the adjacent Syracuse University gives students the added resources of a large, comprehensive institution of higher education, including an array of courses, computer and library facilities, and sports and health services.

ESF's field stations are unmatched, and include the 6,000-hectare Huntington Forest and associated Adirondack Ecological Center, the Cranberry Lake Biological Station in the Adirondack Mountains and the Heiberg Forest south of Syracuse. Other field facilities are available on the St. Lawrence River, including the Thousand Islands Biological Station. These properties form a strong foundation for much of the coursework taken by undergraduate students and field research for graduate students. Undergraduates in Fish and Wildlife Science spend a summer taking classes at Cranberry Lake. Qualified undergraduates are encouraged to intern as field assistants with graduate students to gain direct experience with wildlife research.

Fish and wildlife programs at ESF date back to early studies of Adirondack fishes and work in the Yellowstone National Park. These efforts quickly expanded to include formation of the Roosevelt Wild Life Station in 1919. The Roosevelt Wildlife Museum also was established, and currently houses over 20,000 specimens of vertebrates that are an integral part of today's teaching and research programs. Today, the faculty in fish and wildlife supervise more than $3 million in sponsored research and about 60 graduate students. While much of the research occurs in New York State, international opportunities are available and recent studies have been conducted in Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Madagascar. Studies range from restoration of species, to adaptive management of wildlife in forest ecosystems and urban areas. Technology is often central to this research including extensive use of computer modeling, use of satellite imagery to evaluate habitat, and radio and GPS telemetry to study animal behavior and population dynamics.

Career Opportunities

Many who earn degrees in fish and wildlife biology find employment with state and federal conservation agencies, the forest industry, and environmental engineering and consulting firms. Graduates are not limited to these fields, however, because the wildlife biology curriculum emphasizes analytical/quantitative tools, management and planning concepts, and communication and teamwork skills, leading many into careers in technical and people-oriented fields, including the computer industry, medicine, teaching, and government.

The work of a wildlife biologist is diverse and often includes harvest management of game species, restoration of extirpated species, control of urban wildlife populations, assessment of impacts of human development on wildlife habitat, and surveys of wildlife populations and education of the public.

A graduate degree enhances career opportunities and is often essential to those wishing to move into positions of significant responsibility for supervising management programs and conducting research projects. Graduate degrees substantially augment capabilities with computers and field biology, and provide valuable experience with problem-solving, communication and leadership.

Certification by The Wildlife Society or certification by the American Fisheries Society also enhances career opportunities because many state and federal agencies, and consulting firms give hiring preference to those who are certified.

The elective courses, in conjunction with the core curriculum in EFB, satisfy most state and federal civil service requirements, and provide the educational program needed for certification as an Associate Wildlife Biologist by The Wildlife Society,

Placement of ESF graduates with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees has been nearly 100 percent. Some of the organizations employing our recent graduates are:

  • Blasland, Bouck and Lee, Environmental Consultants
  • Disney World Animal Park
  • Illinois Natural History Survey
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • New York Department of Environmental Conservation
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Geological Survey - Biological Resources Division
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

EFB Graduate Study Links


  • Jerrold L. Belant; jbelant@esf.edu
    wildlife ecology and management, carnivore conservation, human-wildlife conflicts, ecological plasticity, international conservation
  • Jonathan Cohen; jcohen14@esf.edu
    wildlife ecology and management, population and habitat ecology, threatened and endangered species
  • Cynthia J. Downs; cjdowns@esf.edu
    Animal Physiology, ecoimmunology, physiological trade-offs, organismal ecology, scaling, allometry, Ecological and evolutionary consequences of variation in physiological phenotypes
  • Shannon Farrell; sfarrell@esf.edu
    Wildlife ecology, wildlife-habitat relationships, management planning for endangered and threatened species, human impacts on wildlife, ecosystem services, endangered species act policy innovations, birds, bats
  • John M. Farrell; jmfarrell@esf.edu
    Fisheries Science and Management, Aquatic Ecology, Wetlands Restoration, Invasive Species.
  • Jacqueline Frair; jfrair@esf.edu
    wildlife ecology and management, ecology of large herbivores and predators, animal movements, resource selection, population demography, quantitative methods in conservation, landscape ecology
  • James Gibbs; jpgibbs@esf.edu
    herpetology, vertebrate conservation biology, genetics and ecology in birds, reptiles and amphibians, songbirds, giant tortoise, statistics, wildlife population monitoring, galapagos islands, conservation biology, ecological monitoring, population genetics, applied demography, undergraduate conservation education
  • Brian F. Leydet; bfleydet@esf.edu
    infectious and vector-borne diseases, arthropods of veterinary and medical importance, vector biology, vector-pathogen-host interactions, disease ecology, molecular biology, epidemiology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases
  • 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
  • Mark V. Lomolino; island@esf.edu
    conservation biology, wildlife, ecology, evolution and biogeography
  • 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
  • Michael L. Schummer; mlschumm@esf.edu
    Waterfowl Ecology, Waterfowl Management, Waterfowl Conservation, Wetlands Management, Wetlands Conservation, Ornithology, Plant-Animal Associations, Conservation Biology, Wildlife Ecology, Wetlands Ecology, Wildlife-habitat relationships, ecology, climate change, human dimensions of wildlife, avian toxicology
  • John C. Stella; stella@esf.edu
    riparian and stream ecology, restoration ecology, watershed management, ecological modeling, tree-ring science, river restoration, arid-land and Mediterranean ecosystems
  • 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
  • H. Brian Underwood; hbunderw@syr.edu
    wildlife ecology, deer, small mammals, songbirds, quantitative ecology and biostatistics, population surveys, ecological modeling and simulation, national park management, applied population analysis, life-history evolution, trophic dynamics, large mammal management
  • 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

Current Graduate Students in Fish and Wildlife Biology & Management

Current Students Only currently registered students appear — new names appear at start of academic year

Student information is forthcoming.