e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Wildlife ScienceBachelor of Science



Wildlife science is the application of ecological knowledge in a manner that strikes a balance between the needs of wildlife populations and the needs of people.

Research and teaching in wildlife science began at ESF in 1914, one of the first such programs in the U.S., and was quickly followed by establishment of the Roosevelt Wild Life Station in 1919. Today, our program is recognized nationally and internationally, and our graduates are employed worldwide. The focus is applied ecology, and students engage the environmental challenges associated with managing wildlife, ranging from endangered species to overabundant populations. The program recognizes and accommodates the fact that wildlife scientists increasingly must deal with all forms of wildlife, including plants and invertebrates, and the scope is becoming more international.

Shannon in orange jacket holding an injured elk. She is in an open field surrounded by green hills

Students obtain background in the basic sciences (math, chemistry, physics), then learn the basic ecological principles and evolutionary forces that affect wildlife and their associated habitats. Course work then addresses the assessment and management of wildlife resources as well as the biology and natural history of various taxonomic groups. Students are advised to enhance career opportunities via taxonomic proficiency with one or more plant or animal groups, special skills such as GIS, and practical working experience as an intern, volunteer, or paid employee of a conservation agency.

The program prepares students for careers with state and federal agencies as well as an array of domestic and international non-governmental organizations. Diverse job functions include management of wildlife on state, federal or private lands; inventory and assessment of wildlife populations and associated habitats; and interaction with the public to convey the value and rationale of wildlife conservation programs and initiatives. Students who excel academically will also be prepared to continue toward a graduate degree, which can greatly expand employment opportunities and is often necessary for even entry-level, career-track positions.

Undergraduates in wildlife science take advantage of ESF's field stations, which are unmatched nationally and provide myriad opportunities. These properties include the 15,000-acre Adirondack Ecological Center and the Cranberry Lake Biological Station in the Adirondacks, as well as the Heiberg Forest south of Syracuse. Many of the courses taken by wildlife science undergraduates include field exercises at these facilities, and the properties are also used for undergraduate research and other projects in which undergraduate students can become involved.


  • 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
  • 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
  • Eliezer Gurarie; egurarie@esf.edu
    Quantitative wildlife ecology, animal movements, spatial ecology, habitat use, behavior, cognition, population ecology, statistical methods, mathematical modeling, co-production of knowledge.
  • Mark V. Lomolino; island@esf.edu
    conservation biology, wildlife, ecology, evolution and biogeography
  • 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
  • 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