Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Welcome to Wildlife and Conservation Biology! 

The goal of the Wildlife and Conservation Biology program at Murray State University is to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to become effective natural resource professionals. We aim for you to use the knowledge and skills you acquire  to aide in the management and conservation of natural resources, particularly wildlife, for current and future generations. Obtaining your B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Murray State University will prepare you for careers including:

  • Managing wildlife on federal, state, and private lands as a wildlife biologist
  • Working with non-profit organizations or zoos to conserve wildlife
  • Conducting research on wildlife to inform management and conservation efforts
  • Working as a conservation officer to protect wildlife and natural resources
  • Educating the public about wildlife conservation.

Based on your career interests, you can choose from 5 tracks within the Wildlife and Conservation Biology major. Students who complete any of these tracks are well qualified to compete for positions with federal, state, private, or non-profit organizations and admission to graduate programs. Your first course at Murray State University, Introduction to Wildlife Conservation and Biology (BIO 149), will help you decide your career interests and what track you should choose.

Once you finish your degree, you can apply for certification as an Associate Wildlife Biologist (AWB®) through The Wildlife Society, the national organization for wildlife professionals. AWB® certification indicates your completion of rigorous academic standards and that you represent the wildlife profession by following its code of ethics. This certification will help you be competitive for wildlife positions.

Get acquainted with the program below and see why you should join the Wildlife and Conservation Biology program at Murray State University. 

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Wildlife and Conservation Biology Core Curriculum

The core courses you will take when you pursue your Wildlife and Conservation Biology degree are designed to provide you with a solid foundation in biology, with an emphasis on advanced courses in wildlife biology and conservation. These courses, in combination with additional courses specific to the track you choose, will allow you to apply for Associate Wildlife Biologist (AWB®) certification through the Wildlife Society. The suggested curriculum is below, though the order you take your courses in will vary depending on the year and semester you start at Murray State University.

Fall Year 1 Spring Year 1
Course Credits Course Credits
BIO 100T Transitions 1 BIO 216 Biological Inquiry & Analysis  4
BIO 149 Intro. to Wildlife and Conservation Biology 1 BIO 221 Zoology: Animal Form & Function
BIO 115 The Cellular Basis of Life 3 ENG 224 Writing in the Professions
ENG 105 Critical Reading, Writing, & Inquiry 4 MAT 150 Algebra & Trigonometry 
or MAT 140 Algebra and MAT 145 Trig.
5   
CHE 105 Introductory Chemistry 4
COM 161 Public Speaking 3
Total 16    16
 Fall Year 2   Spring Year 2 
BIO 222 Botany: Plant Form & Function 4 BIO 330 Principles of Ecology 4
BIO 333 Genetics 4 STA 135 Intro. to Probability & Statistics 4
Restricted track course 4 AGR 345 Soil Science 3
Social science course** 3 BIO 310 Vertebrate Natural History 4
Total 15   15
Fall Year 3 Spring Year 3
BIO 380 Wildlife Techniques 4 BIO 580 Principles of Wildlife Management 4
BIO 554 Dendrology & Forest Conservation 4 Physical science course*** 4
BIO 382 Scientific Communication for the Biologist 2 Global awareness course** 3
Restricted track or Zoology subfield course* 4 Restricted track or Zoology subfield course* 4
Total 14   15
Fall Year 4 Spring Year 4
BIO 499 Senior Biology Seminar 1 BIO 584 Wildlife Policy & Administration 3
BIO 350 Systematic Botany 4 Restricted track course 3
CIV201/202 World Civilization I or II 3 Restricted track course 3
BIO 578 Conservation Biology 4 HUM 211 Western Humanities Traditions 3
Ethics course requirement** 3 Restricted track or Zoology subfield course* 4
Total 15   16

 

Wildlife and Conservation Biology Tracks

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Wildlife Biology Track

Wildlife biology is an important field where scientists attempt to understand wildlife populations, minimize human-animal conflicts, and manage populations.  The Wildlife Biology Track is designed primarily for students who aim to be wildlife managers and biologists for state agencies, federal agencies, and private firms.  The curriculum provides specialized experience for understanding, studying, and working with wildlife in their natural environment. Possible career opportunities for graduates include:

  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Wildlife Manager
  • Endangered Species Manager
  • Wildlife Technician
  • Research scientist

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Wildlife Biology track:

Your university studies selections will include:

  • ECO 231 Principles of Microeconomics (Social Science)

and you will take:

  • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographic Information Science

and a minimum of 13 credit hours from the following courses:

  • AGR 240 Crop Science
  • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS
  • BIO 320 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
  • BIO 525 Biogeography
  • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases in Wildlife
  • BIO 568 Wetland Ecology
  • BIO 570 Ichthyology
  • BIO 572 Herpetology
  • BIO 573 Ornithology
  • BIO 574 Mammalogy
  • BIO 577 Population and Conservation Genetics
  • BIO 581 Applied Wildlife Economics, Policy, and Administration
  • BIO 582 Fisheries Management
  • GSC 312 Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • GSC 512 Remote Sensing
  • GSC 521 Geographic Information Systems
  • MAT 554 Statistical Methods
  • PLN 507 Urban and Regional Land Use Planning
  • NLS 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources

Conservation Biology Track

The Conservation Biology Track is for perspective students interested in working with wildlife at broader scales.  Wildlife biologists typically study wildlife on a local to regional scale, whereas the conservation biologist works at national and global levels and emphasizes linking research with policy changes.  The coursework for the Conservation Biology Track reflects this by having students take additional coursework in policy and international relations. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Conservation biologist
  • Biological technician
  • Zoo conservation scientist
  • Consultant
  • Conservation advocate
  • Research scientist

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Conservation Biology track:

Your university studies selections will include:

  • ECO 231 Principles of Microeconomics (Social Science req.)
  • POL 250 Introduction to International Relations (Global Awareness, Cultural Diversity, & the World’s Artistic Traditions req.)

and you will take:

  • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographic Information Science

and one of the following:

  • ECO 310 Issues in the Global Economy
  • ECO 345 Environmental Economics

and a minimum of 10 credit hours from the following courses:

  • ANT 320 Human Ecology
  • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS
  • BIO 300 Introductory Microbiology
  • BIO 308 Ethics in Biology
  • BIO 525 Biogeography
  • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases in Wildlife
  • BIO 568 Wetland Ecology
  • BIO 570 Ichthyology
  • BIO 572 Herpetology
  • BIO 573 Ornithology
  • BIO 574 Mammalogy
  • BIO 577 Population and Conservation Genetics
  • BIO 581 Applied Wildlife Economics, Policy, and Administration
  • BIO 590 Disturbance Ecology
  • GSC 312 Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • GSC 350 Field Techniques in Geosciences
  • GSC 512 Remote Sensing
  • GSC 521 Geographic Information Systems
  • PLN 507 Land Use Planning
  • SOC 455 Environmental Sociology

Zoological Conservation Track

The Zoological Conservation Track is for perspective students who desire to work with wildlife, but in a captive setting.  Graduates from the Zoological Conservation Track receive the coursework necessary to assist zoo veterinarians in caring for captive wildlife and to manage and study wildlife in captive situations. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Zookeeper / Aquarist
  • Zoo / Aquarium / Natural History Museum Curator
  • Zoo / Aquarium / Natural History Museum Administrator
  • Zoo Veterinary Technician
  • Research Scientist

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Zoological Conservation track:

You will take: 

  • AGR 300 Principles of Animal Nutrition
  • AGR 310 Applications in Animal Technology
  • AGR 322 Veterinary Laboratory Principles
  • EDU 404 Teaching in Environmental Education

and a minimum of 7 credit hours from the following courses:

  • AGR 324 Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging
  • AGR 329 Veterinary Hematology and Microbiology
  • AGR 332 Veterinary Nursing
  • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS
  • BIO 300 Introductory Microbiology
  • BIO 322 Animal Physiology
  • BIO 467 General Parasitology
  • BIO 538 Animal Behavior
  • BIO 539 Animal Behavior Laboratory
  • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases in Wildlife
  • BIO 570 Ichthyology
  • BIO 572 Herpetology
  • BIO 573 Ornithology
  • BIO 574 Mammalogy
  • BIO 577 Population and Conservation Genetics
  • NLS 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources

Conservation Law Enforcement

The Conservation Law Enforcement Track is for perspective students who desire to be law enforcement officers for state and federal agencies that enforce wildlife regulations.  If you choose this track, you will take courses from the Criminal Justice Department to increase your knowledge and skills in these areas. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Game warden
  • Conservation officer
  • Law enforcement park ranger

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Conservation Law Enforcement track:

Your university studies selections will include:

  • CRJ 140 Introduction to Criminal Justice (Ethics, Soc. Responsibility, & Civic Engagement req.)
  • PSY 180 General Psychology (Social Science req.)

and you will take:

  • CRJ 220 Law Enforcement
  • CRJ 300 Crime and Criminals

and a minimum of 11 credit hours from the following courses:

  • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS
  • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases in Wildlife
  • BIO 570 Ichthyology
  • BIO 572 Herpetology
  • BIO 573 Ornithology
  • BIO 574 Mammalogy
  • BIO 581 Applied Wildlife Economics, Policy, and Administration
  • BIO 582 Fisheries Management
  • CRJ 240 Corrections
  • CRJ 346 Crime Investigation
  • CRJ 365 Interviewing and Interrogation
  • CRJ 445 Criminal Justice Diversity
  • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographical Information Science
  • NLS 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources

Conservation Education Track

The success of conservation relies on the ability of educators to inform the public about its importance.  The Conservation Education Track is for students interested in teaching children or adults about the natural world and the importance of conserving it. The curriculum includes courses that provide students with skills in recreation planning and conservation education. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Park interpreter at city, state, or national parks
  • Educator / outreach coordinators with non-profit, city, state, and federal organizations
  • K-12 Wildlife Educator
  • Educator / interpreter at nature Centers, natural history museums, residential environmental education centers, and zoos

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Conservation Education track:

Your university studies selections will include:

  • EDP 260 Psychology of Human Development (Social Science req.)

and

  • HIS 221 American Experience to 1865 (Ethics, Soc. Responsibility, & Civic Engagement req.)

or

  • HIS 222 American Experience Since 1865 (Ethics, Soc. Responsibility, & Civic Engagement req.)

and you will take:

  • EDU 404 Teaching Environmental Education
  • NLS 350 Program Development

and a minimum of 13 credit hours from the following courses:

  • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS
  • BIO 525 Biogeography
  • BIO 542 Watershed Ecology
  • BIO 546 Stream Ecology
  • BIO 561 Freshwater Invertebrates
  • BIO 563 Aquatic Entomology
  • BIO 564 Entomology
  • BIO 568 Wetland Ecology
  • BIO 570 Ichthyology
  • BIO 572 Herpetology
  • BIO 573 Ornithology
  • BIO 574 Mammalogy
  • BIO 590 Disturbance Ecology
  • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographical Information Science
  • GSC 306 Landscapes of the National Parks
  • GSC 350 Field Techniques in Geosciences
  • GSC 512 Remote Sensing
  • GSC 521 Geographic Information Systems
  • PLN 507 Land Use Planning
  • NLS 411 Curriculum Development in Adventure Education
  • NLS 450 Recreational Use of Natural Resources
  • NLS 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources

Student Organizations

While you are here at Murray State University, we hope you will get to know your fellow students who share your same passion. The following organizations are associated with your major and will provide you with the opportunity to grow professionally while you are here:

  • The Murray State Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society – See their website and follow them on Facebook
  • Murray State University Ducks Unlimited Chapter – See their website and follow them on Facebook

Take a look at their Facebook pages to see some of the activities you have the opportunity to become involved in while you are here!

Internships and Research Opportunities

All of the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences want to see you succeed. We strive to provide students with meaningful experiential learning activities in the classroom and research opportunities. There are a variety of faculty in the Biological Sciences department at Murray State University who can mentor you while completing undergraduate research. Check out the faculty and their research interests.

Gaining field experience, via internships (paid or unpaid) and volunteer opportunities, is the only way you will be competitive for careers in wildlife. Our unique location (see facilities below) and faculty research provide many opportunities for volunteering/working during the school year and we have a specific courses aimed at providing students the opportunity to gain course credit for internships and undergraduate research experiences.  Faculty advisors communicate internships they learn about to students, and students are directed to online resources to find internships, such as the Texas A&M University wildlife job board.

Watch the following video to see what one Murray State University Wildlife and Conservation Biology student did during her internship at the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge (Video by Madeline Heredia)

Facilities

When you decide to attend Murray State University for your Wildlife and Conservation Biology degree, you will be surrounded by opportunities to recreate and learn in the outdoors. Check out the following websites to give you an idea of some of the facilities / areas you may have the opportunity to visit while you are here:

Graduate Opportunities

There are several faculty in the department completing wildlife related research you can reach out to regarding opportunities for graduate studies in their lab. Check out the faculty and their interests here. Also, take a look at the requirements for our thesis and non-thesis track M.S. Degrees and learn how to apply:

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