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.

About the Wildlife and Conservation program


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
Contact

Academic Program Manager
Phone: (603) 862-3933
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 114, Durham, NH 03824
  • UNH student Eleora McCay in the woods
    Monitoring Furbearing Species in New Hampshire
    Eleora McCay is a wildlife and conservation biology major from Bedford, New Hampshire.
    Learn More
  • UNH student Emily Kiss
    A perfect opportunity turns into perfect fit
    Emily Kiss ’25 is a wildlife and conservation biology major from Madison, Conn. who spent her summer interning at the South Florida Wildlife Center thanks in part to a stipend she received from COLSA’s SOAR fund.
    Learn More
  • UNH student Emily Chesterton '25
    A summer spent rehabilitating wildlife
    Wildlife and conservation biology major Emily Chesterton ’25 talks about her rewarding internship at the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts.
    Learn More
  • UNH student Carly Hoag '23
    Conducting research, influencing policy
    Wildlife and conservation biology major Carly Hoag ’23 is interning at an estuarine research reserve in Alaska this summer.
    Learn More
  • UNH student Kaylee Finch '25
    Teaching children about wildlife
    Kaylee Finch ’25 is a wildlife and conservation biology major who is spending her summer teaching children about wildlife and inspiring them to care about animals and their environment.
    Learn More

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 Year
FallCredits
NR 433 Wildlife Ecology 4
NR 425 Field Dendrology 4
BIOL 411 Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
 Credits16
Spring
MATH 424B Calculus for Life Sciences 4
BIOL 412 Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology 4
EREC 411 Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives 4
Discovery Elective 4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
NR 415 Natural Resources Field Methods 2
NR 527 Forest Ecology 4
CHEM 411 Introductory Chemistry for Life Sciences 4
ZOOL 613W Animal Behavior 5
 Credits15
Spring
NR 417 Sophomore Seminar: Wildlife and Conservation Biology 2
NR 658 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 4
BIOL 528 Applied Biostatistics I 4
Discovery Elective 4
Animal Morphology, Evolution and Ecology Elective 4
 Credits18
Third Year
Fall
NR 615 Wildlife Habitats 4
ENGL 501 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction 4
ZOOL 690
or ZOOL 690W
Evolution
or Evolution
4
Discovery Elective 4
 Credits16
Spring
NR 602 Natural Resources and Environmental Policy 4
NR 650 Principles of Conservation Biology 4
Discovery Elective 4
Elective 4
 Credits16
Fourth Year
Fall
NR 642 Introduction to Biogeography 4
NR 740 Inventory and Monitoring of Ecological Communities 4
Elective 4
Elective 4
 Credits16
Spring
NR 640 Wildlife Population Ecology 4
NR 750 Sustaining Biological Diversity 4
Elective 4
Animal Morphology, Evolution and Ecology Elective 4
 Credits16
 Total Credits129

Degree Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement: 128 credits
Minimum Residency Requirement: 32 credits must be taken at UNH
Minimum GPA: 2.0 required for conferral*
Core Curriculum Required: Discovery & Writing Program Requirements
Foreign Language Requirement: No

All Major, Option and Elective Requirements as indicated.
*Major GPA requirements as indicated.

Major Requirements

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.

Required Courses
NR 433Wildlife Ecology4
BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular4
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
NR 425Field Dendrology4
EREC 411Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives4
Math Foundations
MATH 424BCalculus for Life Sciences0-4
or MATH 420 Finite Mathematics
Chemistry Foundations
CHEM 411Introductory Chemistry for Life Sciences4
or CHEM 403 General Chemistry I
Introductory Ecology
NR 527Forest Ecology4
or BIOL 541W Ecology
NR 415Natural Resources Field Methods 12
NR 417Sophomore Seminar: Wildlife and Conservation Biology 12
BIOL 528Applied Biostatistics I4
Animal Morphology, Evolution, and Ecology
Select two courses from the following:8
NR 506
Forest Entomology
NR 712
Mammalogy
or MEFB 535
Marine Mammal Biology
ZOOL 542
Ornithology
or MEFB 510
Field Ornithology
ZOOL 566
Herpetology
ZOOL 710
Sharks and Bony Fishes
or MEFB 741
Sharks: Biology and Conservation
ZOOL 518
Comparative Morphology and Biology of Vertebrates
Communications Skills
NR 508Communicating Science4
or ENGL 501 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
or ENGL 502 Professional and Technical Writing
or ENGL 503 Persuasive Writing
or CMN 500 Public Speaking
Evolution/Genetics
NR 664Conservation Genetics and Applied Evolution4
or ZOOL 690 Evolution
or ZOOL 690W Evolution
Physiology/Behavior
ZOOL 625Principles of Animal Physiology3-5
or ZOOL 613W Animal Behavior
or ZOOL 726 Conservation Behavior
Policy
NR 602Natural Resources and Environmental Policy3-4
or MARI 705 Introduction to Marine Policy: Understanding US Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes Policy
or POLT 500 American Public Policy
NR 615Wildlife Habitats4
NR 650Principles of Conservation Biology4
Geographic Information Systems
NR 658Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
or ESCI 777 GIS for Earth & Environmental Sciences
NR 640Wildlife Population Ecology4
Advanced Ecology Elective
NR 603Landscape Ecology4
or NR 642 Introduction to Biogeography
or NR 713 Quantitative Ecology
or NR 730 Terrestrial Ecosystems
or NR 734 Tropical Ecology
or NR 751 Aquatic Ecosystems
or NR #765 Community Ecology
or BIOL 720 Plant-Animal Interactions
or MEFB 717 Lake Ecology
or ZOOL 708 Stream Ecology
NR 740Inventory and Monitoring of Ecological Communities4
Capstone
NR 750Sustaining Biological Diversity 24
Total Credits86-93
1

NR 415 Natural Resources Field Methods & NR 417 Sophomore Seminar: Wildlife and Conservation Biology are 2-credit courses. Students should meet with their advisor for guidance on course load (e.g., 14-15 or 18 cr.) that best accommodate these courses while meeting the 128-credit which requires 32 credits per year (on average).

2

Capstone can also be met with NR 663 Applied Directed Research in New Zealand UNH EcoQuest (or similar, approved experience) if taken as a senior, in the final year. An Honors Thesis/UROP/URA/SURF/Independent Study (or similar) cannot count as a Capstone for this major. 

Students will:

  • Understand the ecological and societal value of biodiversity, sustainability, and environmental stewardship;
  • learn/understand ecological concepts and fundamental principles and techniques to manage and conserve wildlife habitat and populations;
  • know the taxonomy, ecology, and natural history of the majority of native flora and fauna in New England;
  • locate, evaluate, and summarize information from both print and electronic media relevant to wildlife and conservation biology issues;
  • effectively communicate scientific information in written and oral formats;
  • master mathematical, statistical, and study design knowledge and skills, and use state-of-the-art software, hardware, and analytical techniques relevant to wildlife and conservation biology;
  • be familiar with a variety of natural resource laws and regulations;
  • understand how to integrate relevant social sciences and human dimensions approaches to address wildlife and conservation biology issues as part of multidisciplinary teams.

Explore Program Details

Key Learning Objectives:

Students will:

  • Understand the ecological and societal value of biodiversity, sustainability, and environmental stewardship, and more specifically, learn/understand ecological concepts and fundamental principles and techniques to manage and conserve wildlife habitat and populations;
  • know the taxonomy, ecology, and natural history of the majority of native flora and fauna in New England;
  • locate, evaluate, and summarize information from both print and electronic media relevant to wildlife and conservation biology issues, and effectively communicate scientific information in written and oral formats;
  • master mathematical, statistical, and study design knowledge and skills, and use state-of-the-art software, hardware, and analytical techniques relevant to wildlife and conservation biology;
  • be familiar with a variety of natural resource laws and regulations and understand how to integrate relevant social sciences and human dimensions approaches to address wildlife and conservation biology issues as part of multidisciplinary teams. 

 

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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