What Does a Conservation Biologist Do?

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Conservation biology is the study, management, protection and restoration of threatened species, ecological communities, habitats and ecosystems in an effort to preserve biological diversity. Scientists who work in this field play a vital role in reversing the current trends in habitat destruction and loss of species. Serving in a number of different roles allows conservation biologists to integrate the scientific principles of species conservation with social, economic and political perspectives to achieve conservation goals.

Research

  • Conservation biologists conduct research to aid in the recovery of species and their habitats, and to ensure the health and well-being of animals in captivity and in the wild. Their ability to analyze a problem in the field and design a conservation strategy to solve it can preserve species diversity while meeting local economic, political and permit requirements. Research areas include global climate change, endangered species biology, conservation genetics theory, restoration ecology and ecosystem management.

Conservation

  • Through the wise management and protection of natural resources, conservation scientists can help conserve natural biodiversity. These biologists measure wildlife abundance, distribution and physiological health, through noninvasive field, laboratory and analytical methods to address conservation problems around the world. In many cases, this information serves as a basis for making recommendations to policymakers on the best ways to use and improve the land, while safeguarding the environment.

Restoration

  • Native habitats around the globe have shrunk to tiny fragments of their former areas. Conservation biologists work to restore these ecosystems to the previous range allowing native plants and animals to recover to sustainable population densities. These efforts may include the removal of invasive exotic species, removal of toxic materials, reestablishment of native plant communities, and reintroduction of wetland habitat in previously drained areas.

Public Education

  • Conservation biologists work with the public, with a particular focus on the people whose lives are affected by efforts to protect endangered species or habitats. They advise farmers and ranchers on improving their land for agricultural purposes, while providing habitat for native species. The scientific data developed by these scientists may also help to identify poaching hotspots, supporting law enforcement efforts. They also work closely with landowners and governments on environmentally preferable recreational uses for undeveloped land.

References

  • Photo Credit Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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