cals-wildlifeecology

Wildlife ecologists apply science to manage and conserve wildlife populations and their habitats. The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology trains wildlife ecologists and managers to meet the complex needs of wildlife in a human-dominated world. Students receive training in species ecology, physiology  and habitat management, techniques of monitoring species, and conservation, through a curriculum solidly grounded in the natural sciences. Beyond a core of basic science and wildlife coursework, students have flexibility to customize their learning experience within one of two tracks: natural sciences and natural resources. The natural sciences track includes coursework that will qualify a student for certification as a wildlife biologist by The Wildlife Society.

Students learn through a mix of classroom, laboratory, and field instruction that emphasize independent thinking and problem-solving. Students make frequent visits to the field to develop and hone their skills, essential for future jobs or graduate work. There is intense competition for career openings in the wildlife field. Most opportunities are with state and federal agencies, but options also exist with private conservation groups and educational institutions. To be most competitive for limited job opportunities, students should pursue a master's degree. The Graduate Guide describes the department's graduate programs.

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics
Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):5-6
Algebra
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
Select one of the following:3
Introductory Statistics for Engineers
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Introduction to Biostatistics
Statistical Methods for Bioscience I
Chemistry
Select one of the following:4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World (only for Natural Resources track students)
Advanced General Chemistry
Biology
Select one of the following options:10
Option 1 (recommended):
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Option 2:
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
and General Botany
Option 3:
Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
and Organismal Biology
and Organismal Biology Laboratory
Core
Wildlife Ecology
F&W ECOL 101 Orientation to Wildlife Ecology1
F&W ECOL 306 Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History and Ecology4
F&W ECOL 318 Principles of Wildlife Ecology3
F&W ECOL 379 Principles of Wildlife Management3
F&W ECOL 561 Wildlife Management Techniques3
F&W ECOL 655 Animal Population Dynamics3
Plant Taxonomy
BOTANY 400 Plant Systematics4
or BOTANY 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin
Anatomy/Physiology
Select one of the following:3-5
Physiological Animal Ecology (recommended)
Physiology
Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology
Evolution/Genetics
Select one of the following:3-5
Evolutionary Biology
Principles of Genetics
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory 1
Wildlife Biology
Select one of the following:5-6
Ornithology
and Birds of Southern Wisconsin 2
Ecology of Fishes
and Ecology of Fishes Lab
Breadth
Select 3 credits from breadth courses (below)3
Track Courses
Select one of the following:14-17
Natural Sciences Track
Natural Resources Track
Capstone
Select one of the following (or see advisor):3
Complexity and Conservation of White-tailed Deer (formerly 375, Complexity & Conservation of White-tailed Deer)
Wildlife Research Capstone
Total Credits74-84
1

Only allowed for students who completed the rest of the Biocore curriculum listed under Biology.

2

Required for TWS certification

Breadth Courses

AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
ENVIR ST/​LAND ARC  361 Wetlands Ecology3
ENVIR ST 375 Field Ecology Workshop3
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
F&W ECOL 375 Special Topics (Conservation Genetics, Wildlife-Habitat Relationships)1-4
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY  402 Dendrology2
F&W ECOL 404 Wildlife Damage Management3
F&W ECOL 424 Wildlife Ecology Summer Field Practicum (this course, taken for 2 credits, will complete the requirement)2
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST  515 Natural Resources Policy3
F&W ECOL/​SURG SCI  548 Diseases of Wildlife3
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
F&W ECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​M&ENVTOX  632 Ecotoxicology: The Chemical Players1
F&W ECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​M&ENVTOX  633 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Individuals1
F&W ECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​M&ENVTOX  634 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Populations, Communities and Ecosystems1
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology3
F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  660 Climate Change Ecology3
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2-3
ZOOLOGY 504 Modeling Animal Landscapes3-5
ZOOLOGY 535 Ecosystem Analysis3

Courses used in this category cannot be double counted toward any other major requirement.

Tracks

Natural Sciences Track

Select one of the following:5
Calculus
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
CHEM 104 General Chemistry II 15
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Total Credits14-15
1

If CHEM 109 was taken instead of CHEM 103, CHEM 104 is not required.

Natural Resources Track

Wildlife Resource Electives
Select two of the following:3-7
Special Topics (Wildlife-Habitat Relationships)
Wildlife Damage Management
Wildlife Ecology Summer Field Practicum
Natural Resources Policy
Conservation Biology Electives
Select one of the following:3
Extinction of Species
Conservation Biology
Climate Change Ecology
Forest Management Electives
Select one of the following:2-4
Principles of Silviculture
World Forest History
Insects in Forest Ecosystem Function and Management
Decision Methods for Natural Resource Managers
Forest Resources Practicum
Natural Resources Management Electives
Select one of the following:2-4
Environment, Natural Resources, and Society
People, Wildlife and Landscapes
Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice
Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues
Natural Resource Economics
Environmental Conservation
Environmental Economics
Environmental Law, Toxic Substances, and Conservation
Government and Natural Resources
Assessment of Environmental Impact
Total Credits10-18

University Degree Requirements  

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Define and explain basic principles in biological sciences and major concepts in wildlife ecology including, population ecology, organismal biology, plant ecology/taxonomy, and genetics/evolution.
  2. Explain and discuss principles of wildlife management including natural resource legislation, policy, and applications.
  3. Explain and apply the scientific methods including designing and conducting experiments and testing hypotheses.
  4. Explain and demonstrate techniques for collection of data in laboratory and field settings, keep accurate records, and analyze data to address hypotheses.
  5. Demonstrate a style appropriate for communicating scientific results in written and oral form. Provide opportunity to develop these communication skills.

Four-year plan

Sample Wildlife Ecology Four-Year Plan—Natural Sciences Track

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 1011F&W ECOL 3793
F&W ECOL 3183MATH 113, 114, 171, 211, 217, or 2213-5
MATH 112, 113, 114, or 1713-5CHEM 103 or 1094
General Education Courses13-12General Education Courses10-9
 10-21 10-21
Total Credits 20-42
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MATH 211, 217, or 2215ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  152 or BOTANY 1305
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  151 (or ZOOLOGY 101 & ZOOLOGY 102)5Statistics Course3-4
CHEM 1045BOTANY 40124
 General Education Courses10-6
 15 12-19
Total Credits 27-34
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYSICS 103, 201, or 2074-5F&W ECOL 3064
Breadth Elective Course3ZOOLOGY/​ANTHRO/​BOTANY  410 or GENETICS 4663
F&W ECOL 5613ZOOLOGY/​AN SCI/​F&W ECOL  520
ZOOLOGY/​AN SCI/​F&W ECOL  521
6
General Education Courses11-8General Education Courses10-7
 11-19 13-20
Total Credits 24-39
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 40133Capstone Course53
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  36043F&W ECOL 6553
General Education Courses14-12General Education Courses16-12
 10-18 12-18
Total Credits 22-36
1

Gen‐Ed requirements include communications, ethnic studies, humanities, social science, or international studies. See Requirements tab for more details.

2

BOTANY 400 offered in fall

3

 Or other physiology

4

Recommended to fulfill the CALS International Studies requirement, also a Breadth Elective option

5

F&W ECOL 577 offered in fall

Possible places where students may cut down on courses: COMM‐A placement test, COMM‐B taken as ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  152, QR‐A placement test, AP/IB credits (biology, social sciences, humanities, language, chemistry, physics, math, statistics)

  • Students should take elective courses in place of the Gen‐Ed courses once they have completed their Gen‐Ed requirements 

Sample Wildlife Ecology Four-Year Plan—Natural Resources Track

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 1011F&W ECOL 3793
F&W ECOL 3183MATH 113, 114, or 1713-5
MATH 112, 113, 114, or 1713-5CHEM 103 or 1094-5
General Education Courses13-12General Education Courses10-9
 10-21 10-22
Total Credits 20-43
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  151 (or ZOOLOGY 101 & ZOOLOGY 102)5ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  152 or BOTANY 1305
Natural Resources Elective Course2-4Statistics Course3-4
General Education Courses3-11BOTANY 40124
 Wildlife Resources Course3
 10-20 15-16
Total Credits 25-36
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Breadth Elective Course3F&W ECOL 3064
F&W ECOL 5613ZOOLOGY/​AN SCI/​F&W ECOL  520
ZOOLOGY/​AN SCI/​F&W ECOL  521
6
General Education Courses13-12Wildlife Resources Course3
 Forest Management Course33-4
 9-18 16-17
Total Credits 25-35
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
F&W ECOL 40143Capstone Course63
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  36053F&W ECOL 6553
General Education Courses14-12ZOOLOGY/​ANTHRO/​BOTANY  410 or GENETICS 4663
 General Education Courses13-9
 10-18 12-18
Total Credits 22-36
1

Gen‐Ed requirements include communications, ethnic studies, humanities, social science, or international studies. See Requirements tab for more details.

2

BOTANY 400 offered in Fall

3

Or fall

4

Or other physiology

5

Or F&W ECOL/​BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  651 in spring; F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 counts for the CALS International Studies requirement, but F&W ECOL/​BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  651 does not

6

 F&W ECOL 577 offered in Fall

Possible places where students may cut down on courses: COMM‐A placement test, COMM‐B taken as ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  152, QR‐A placement test, AP/IB credits (biology, social sciences, humanities, language, chemistry, physics, math, statistics), Natural Resources Management electives course for social science course, F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 for international studies

  • Students should take elective courses in place of the Gen‐Ed courses once they have completed their Gen‐Ed requirements

Undergraduate Advising in Wildlife Ecology

All undergraduate students are assigned to an advisor when they declare the major. If you were not assigned an advisor, do not know who your advisor is, would like to talk to someone about switching advisors, or if your advisor is not available, please contact our Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock (rodock@wisc.edu, 608-262-9926 or appointment link for current UW–Madison students).

Undergraduates in wildlife ecology are required to meet with their advisor before they can enroll for the upcoming term. Please remember to bring a DARS report with you to any advising appointment. You can request a DARS through your student center in MyUW. Although drop-ins and emergencies can be accommodated by someone in the department, the student is best served if they make an appointment with their assigned advisor.

For more information about the Wildlife Ecology BS or the department in general, please contact the Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock (rodock@wisc.edu, 608-262-9926 or appointment link for current UW–Madison students).

Careers and Professional Development

For more information on careers available to forest and wildlife ecology students please visit our Internship & Job Resources page. For more information on other academic, co-curricular, financial aid, and career opportunities and services available to Forest & Wildlife Ecology students, please visit the CALS "Building Your Career" page. Students in the major are welcome to make an individual appointment with Sara Rodock (appointment link for current UW–Madison students) to discuss a number of career-related topics such as career exploration, search strategies, graduate school, and review of application materials (resume, CV, letters, etc.).

Professors

Bowe, Scott
Drake, David
Karasov, William
Kruger, Eric
Mladenoff, David
Radeloff, Volker
Ribic, Christine
Rickenbach, Mark (chair)
Samuel, Michael
Stanosz, Glen
Townsend, Philip
Van Deelen, Timothy

Associate Professors

Lutz, R. Scott
Ozdogan, Mutlu
Pauli, Jonathan
Peery, M. Zach
Pidgeon, Anna
Rissman, Adena

Assistant Professors

Johnston, Craig
Zuckerberg, Benjamin

Faculty Associate

Berkelman, James