Wildlife and Conservation Biology Major (B.S.)

Wildlife and Conservation Biology Major (B.S.)

Natural Resources: Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Our students combine science with their passion for nature and the outdoors.

What is wildlife and conservation biology?

The Wildlife and Conservation Biology program provides students with the multi-disciplinary background necessary to manage and conserve wildlife and their habitats against the backdrop of human population growth, development and climate change. Students in this degree program develop a broad foundation in the natural sciences and learn to manage a wide range of species.

Why study wildlife and conservation biology at UNH?

Located in the wildlife-rich state of New Hampshire, just minutes from the Atlantic Coast and an hour from the White Mountains, UNH is the perfect place for studying wildlife and conservation biology. Our program emphasizes hands-on experience through intensive lab and fieldwork, and students are encouraged to participate in faculty research projects involving a variety of wildlife species in areas including big game management, conservation biology, conservation genetics, endangered species management, landscape ecology and population ecology.

Potential careers

  • Conservation
  • Environmental education
  • Game management
  • Public outreach
  • Resource management
  • Wildlife management

Contact

Wendy Rose

BUSINESS MANAGER II
Phone: (603) 862-3933
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 114, Durham, NH 03824
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of New Hampshire
James Hall, Rm 114
56 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-1022

Connect with us

MM/DD/YYYY
  • Protecting Wildlife in New Hampshire
    Pat Tate graduated from UNH in 1999 with a degree in wildlife and in 2007 with a master’s degree in natural resources: wildlife. He is now a wildlife biologist with NH Fish & Game.
    Protecting Wildlife in New Hampshire
    Pat Tate graduated from UNH in 1999 with a degree in wildlife and in 2007 with a master’s degree in natural resources: wildlife. He is now a wildlife biologist with NH Fish & Game.
  • Wildlife and Conservation Biology Major Talks Research & Working with Faculty
    Listen to wildlife and conservation biology major Jenna O'del '20 talk about what the unique opportunities to  conduct research and work with faculty on their research projects while an undergrad means to her.
    Wildlife and Conservation Biology Major Talks Research & Working with Faculty
    Listen to wildlife and conservation biology major Jenna O'del '20 talk about what the unique opportunities to  conduct research and work with faculty on their research projects while an undergrad means to her.
  • Moose Biologist and UNH Alum Honored With International Award
    Lee Kantar ‘95, a moose biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), was honored with the Distinguished Moose Biologist Award by his peers at the 53rd North American Moose Conference.
    Moose Biologist and UNH Alum Honored With International Award
    Lee Kantar ‘95, a moose biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), was honored with the Distinguished Moose Biologist Award by his peers at the 53rd North American Moose Conference.
  • Coming a Long Way and Going Much Farther
    Angelica Beltrán Franco ’19 is a wildlife and conservation biology major and animal behavior minor who moved to the U.S. with her family in 2013 from Medellin, Colombia. 
    Coming a Long Way and Going Much Farther
    Angelica Beltrán Franco ’19 is a wildlife and conservation biology major and animal behavior minor who moved to the U.S. with her family in 2013 from Medellin, Colombia. 
  • Avid hiker heads to the beach for a transformative summer internship
    Grey Miller ‘20, who chose UNH for its easy access to hiking and camping in the White Mountains, talks about why he jumped at an opportunity to spend the summer collecting data on sea turtles in Vero Beach, Florida.
    Avid hiker heads to the beach for a transformative summer internship
    Grey Miller ‘20, who chose UNH for its easy access to hiking and camping in the White Mountains, talks about why he jumped at an opportunity to spend the summer collecting data on sea turtles in Vero Beach, Florida.

Curriculum & Requirements

The Wildlife & Conservation Biology major provides students with the knowledge and tools to study, conserve, and manage wildlife and their habitats. 

Our students combine science with their passion for nature and the outdoors.  Our courses emphasize hands-on experience and place fundamental principles within an applied context. Students are encouraged to conduct research alongside faculty, and faculty actively assist students in obtaining internships.

Our students become wildlife biologists and resource managers at state/federal agencies and non-profit organizations, conservation law officers, and environmental educators. Many go on to obtain an advanced degree.

Sample Course Sequence for Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Plan of Study Grid
First YearCredits
BIOL 411 Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular 4
BIOL 412 Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
EREC 411 Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives 4
MATH 424B
or MATH 420
Calculus for Life Sciences
or Finite Mathematics
4
NR 425 Field Dendrology 4
NR 433 Wildlife Ecology 4
Discovery electives  
 Credits28
Second Year
CHEM 411 Introductory Chemistry for Life Sciences 4
BMCB 501 Biological Chemistry 5
BIOL 528 Applied Biostatistics I 4
Select one of the following: 4
ENGL 501
Introduction to Creative Nonfiction  
ENGL 502
Professional and Technical Writing  
ENGL 503
Persuasive Writing  
CMN 500
Public Speaking  
NR 527
or BIOL 541
Forest Ecology
or Ecology
4
NR 415 Natural Resources Field Methods 2
NR 417 Sophomore Seminar: Wildlife and Conservation Biology 2
Select one of the following: 4
NR 655
Vertebrate Biology  
NR 712
Mammalogy  
MEFB 510
Field Ornithology  
ZOOL 542
Ornithology  
ZOOL 710
Sharks and Bony Fishes  
Discovery electives  
 Credits29
Third Year
NR 602 Natural Resources and Environmental Policy 4
NR 650 Principles of Conservation Biology 4
NR 615
or NR 603
Wildlife Habitats
or Landscape Ecology
4
NR 640 Wildlife Population Ecology 4
NR 664
or ZOOL 690
Conservation Genetics
or Evolution
4
NR 658 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 4
Select one of the following: 4-5
NR 625
Physiological Ecology  
ZOOL 518
Comparative Morphology and Biology of Vertebrates  
ZOOL 625
Principles of Animal Physiology  
ZOOL 613
Animal Behavior  
Discovery electives  
 Credits28-29
Fourth Year
NR 750 Sustaining Biological Diversity (Capstone) 4
NR 740 Inventory and Monitoring of Ecological Communities 4
Select one of the following: 4
NR 642
Introduction to Biogeography  
NR 765
Community Ecology  
NR 603
Landscape Ecology  
Discovery electives  
 Credits12
 Total Credits97-98

In addition to the Wildlife and Conservation Biology degree requirements (below), students must complete the University Discovery Program and the University Writing Requirements. Given the flexibility of this major, students may also complete a minor or dual major in a second area of interest, or apply for certification by The Wildlife Society.

Requirements
BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
EREC 411Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives4
MATH 424BCalculus for Life Sciences4
or MATH 420 Finite Mathematics
NR 425Field Dendrology4
NR 433Wildlife Ecology4
CHEM 411Introductory Chemistry for Life Sciences4
BMCB 501Biological Chemistry5
NR 527Forest Ecology4
or BIOL 541 Ecology
NR 415Natural Resources Field Methods2
NR 417Sophomore Seminar: Wildlife and Conservation Biology2
NR 658Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
BIOL 528Applied Biostatistics I4
NR 602Natural Resources and Environmental Policy4
NR 650Principles of Conservation Biology4
NR 615Wildlife Habitats4
or NR 603 Landscape Ecology
NR 640Wildlife Population Ecology4
NR 664Conservation Genetics4
or ZOOL 690 Evolution
NR 740Inventory and Monitoring of Ecological Communities4
NR 750Sustaining Biological Diversity (Capstone) 14
Select one of the following Communication Skills courses:4
ENGL 501
Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
ENGL 502
Professional and Technical Writing
ENGL 503
Persuasive Writing
CMN 500
Public Speaking
Select one of the following Vertebrate Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity courses:4
NR 655
Vertebrate Biology
NR 712
Mammalogy
MEFB 510
Field Ornithology
ZOOL 542
Ornithology
ZOOL 710
Sharks and Bony Fishes
Select one of the following Physiology/Behavior courses:3-5
NR 625
Physiological Ecology
ZOOL 518
Comparative Morphology and Biology of Vertebrates
ZOOL 625
Principles of Animal Physiology
ZOOL 613
Animal Behavior
Select one of the following additional Ecology courses:4
NR 642
Introduction to Biogeography
NR 765
Community Ecology
NR 603
Landscape Ecology
Total Credits92-94

Explore Program Details

What is Wildlife and Conservation Biology (WCB)?

The WCB program provides students with a multi-disciplinary curriculum, rooted in ecological studies, to prepare them to manage and conserve wildlife populations and their habitats. The WCB curriculum enables students to combine science with a passion for nature and the outdoors.

What kinds of students are most attracted to the WCB major?

Students who are interested in the environment and animal populations and have a love for nature and the outdoors will thrive in the WCB program.

What distinguishes the WCB major from other Biology majors?

The WCB curriculum has a strong applied focus on natural resource management and wildlife conservation. Students are challenged to apply fundamental principles and field and analytical techniques to real-world studies on the conservation and management of animal populations and their habitats. The program provides extensive hands-on training in field techniques and develops connections with wildlife professionals and stakeholder partners in the region. Overall, the program provides more field and outdoor experiences than other majors in the college.

What potential careers does a WCB degree prepare students for?

The WCB degree prepares students for a diversity of careers focused on ecology and natural resource management and conservation, including wildlife biologist, conservation biologist, park service ranger, conservation officer, environmental educator, environmental consultant, research scientist or academic researcher.

What are some potential employers of WCB graduates?

Our recent WCB graduates have taken jobs at local and regional state and federal agencies, as well as NGOs and private consulting companies, including the US Fish & Wildlife Service and associated National Wildlife Refuges, New Hampshire Fish & Game or other state fish and game departments, USDA Aphis, USDA Plant and Animal Inspection Service, Stantec Consulting, Normandeau Associates, local land trusts (e.g. Bear Paw Regional Greenways), and University Cooperative Extension programs. Our students also enter highly ranked graduate programs throughout the country.

Does a WCB major prepare students for further graduate studies?

Yes, the WCB degree prepares students well to continue their education with graduate studies in ecological fields, including Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Ecology and Evolution, Wildlife Biology, Conservation Biology, and Forest and Conservation Sciences.

What kinds of laboratory experiences are offered in the WCB curriculum?

Most WCB courses have an associated laboratory or recitation. Labs are often field-based, providing students opportunities to learn outdoors in the University’s surrounding woodland properties, farms, and coastal and estuarine research centers. Local and regional field trips are also components of several courses, exposing students to diverse habitat, ecosystems, field techniques, and management and conservation activities. Many of these field trips engage participation by wildlife professionals, including UNH alumni, and thereby provide opportunities for students to experience real-world projects with stakeholder partners. Some courses provide computer lab experiences, through the department’s dedicated computer cluster and mobile laptop resources.

What is the capstone experience for WCB students?

The WCB major includes a dedicated capstone course, NR 750 Sustaining Biological Diversity, as a culmination of the curriculum. This course integrates learning experiences across the 4 years with a semester-long group project, it also focuses on communication and professionalism. Field trips with wildlife professionals highlight careers and opportunities to prepare students for a range of professions in wildlife and conservation biology.

What is a typical class size for a course in the WCB major?

Class size varies depending on the level of the course and whether it is specific to the WCB major or a common requirement for other majors in the college. In general, class size reduces as a student progresses to higher-level courses specific to the major. Introductory level core courses, such as Chemistry, Biology, Math and Wildlife Ecology, tend to be larger lectures (100-200 students), with lab sections capped at 24 students; most other core courses have enrollments <50. Upper-level courses specific to the WCB major have class sizes of 20-25.

What are the credit requirements for the WCB major?

The WCB curriculum grants ~94 credits of the 128 credits required for a Bachelor’s degree at UNH. This consists of 25 WCB specific requirements and includes 6 of 11 Discovery requirements that are met with required WCB courses; another 1-2 Discovery requirements can be met with course selection within the major.

Are there opportunities to take elective courses while fulfilling the WCB major?

Yes, there are ~34 open credits after students fulfill the WCB requirements. These include a few remaining Discovery requirements; the rest can be filled by electives of the student’s choice. This leaves room for a minor, see below.

Is it possible to double major or take a minor while fulfilling the WCB major?

Many WCB students pursue a minor in a related field, e.g., Animal Behavior, Forestry, Geospatial Analysis, and Wetland Ecology are popular minors. With careful planning, students may also pursue a dual major, outside of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, e.g., in a foreign language. Justice Studies and Sustainability are two popular dual majors that interface with the WCB major.

Are there internship opportunities?

A large proportion of our students pursue internship opportunities, especially in the summer, with state agencies, state and national parks, or local conservation organizations.

Are there opportunities for students to pursue independent research?

Yes, students are encouraged to pursue undergraduate research opportunities, with faculty within or outside of the WCB major. All WCB faculty provide undergraduate research opportunities. Funding is available through the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research.

Are there study abroad opportunities geared specifically for WCB students?

The Ecoquest New Zealand program is specifically tailored with a curriculum in ecological field studies, relevant to students in WCB and related majors. These opportunities can be pursued in either an academic semester or the summer. Hundreds of additional approved international study abroad opportunities are available; more information can be found at the UNH Study Abroad Office.

Will students have a dedicated academic advisor within the WCB program?

Yes, WCB students are assigned a faculty advisor in their freshman year. This advisor is a faculty member who teaches in the WCB program and will remain the student’s advisor through graduation. Advisors meet with their students at least once per semester to help them select and register for classes, consult about internship and research opportunities and career advice and are available by appointment to help students with their academic questions throughout the year

Rigorous academic pursuit and hands-on learning from the mountains to the sea. Full immersion learning at a diversity of sites in the North and South Islands.

Ecoquest

Xi Sigma Pi is facilitated through the UNH NREN department. Its goal is to unite likeminded individuals through service and fraternal spirit through a shared enjoyment of the environment. In addition, members receive recognition for their service by earning a cord to wear during graduation. Opportunities to take up leadership roles and give back to the NREN department are abundant.

XI SIGMA PI NREN Honor Society

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