Although water covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, the freshwater that people rely upon comprises less than 1% of all the water on Earth. Supporting the water needs of human populations and maintaining water quality in our rivers, lakes and groundwater will be one of the dominant environmental issues of the 21st century.

The Odum School of Ecology has one of the best programs in the U.S. for aquatic ecology. Aquatic ecologists in the Odum School have been leaders in long term ecological research that explores the influence of human activities on freshwater ecosystems. Faculty interests range from impacts of climate change on tropical stream food webs to the effects of loss of amphibian biodiversity on stream communities. Other faculty study long-term changes in fish populations including several rare and endangered species found only in Georgia. The Odum School is home to the River Basin Center which sponsors interdisciplinary research on water issues and works with community stakeholders to implement strategies to effectively manage water resources.


Students can select courses tailored to their career goals. For example, students interested in aquatic conservation issues should take ECOL 3530 Conservation Biology, ECOL 4050/4050L Ichthyologyand ECOL4310/4310L Freshwater Ecosystems. All students with the aquatic ecology area of emphasis should consider taking coursework for the Certificate in Water Resources.

Many students enroll in ECOL 4960 Research to gain research experience by working with faculty and graduate students. For students interested in public policy related to aquatic systems, a summer internship with a non-profit group or government agency would provide an excellent opportunity to explore career options.

Major Core
  • ECOL 3400 Professional Development for Careers in Ecology
  • ECOL 3500/3500L Ecology
  • ECOL 4000 Population and Community Ecology (preferred) or ECOL 4150/4150L Population Biology of Infectious Disease
  • ECOL 4010 Ecosystem Ecology or ECOL 4310/4310L Freshwater Ecosystems (preferred)
  • ECOL 4240/4240L Physiological Ecology or ECOL 4540 Behavioral Ecology
  • ECOL 4500 Evolutionary Ecology
  • ECOL 4950 Senior Seminar
  • STAT 2000 Introduction to Statistics or BIOS 2010 Elementary Biostatistics
Natural History Requirement (choose 1)*
  • ECOL 4050/4050L Ichthyology
  • ENTO 3140/3140L Insect Natural History
  • WILD 4040/4040L Herpetology
Methods and Skills Requirement (choose 1)*
  • CRSS 3060/3060L Soils and Hydrology
  • ECOL 4960 Research
  • GEOG 4370/4370L Geographic Information Systems
  • STAT 4210 Statistical Methods
Major Electives (choose 4 courses)*
  • CBIO(PBIO) 4600/4600L Biology of Protists
  • ECOL 3510 Ecology Laboratory
  • ECOL 3530 Conservation Biology
  • ECOL(FANR) 4220 Foundations of Restoration Ecology
  • FANR(ECOL) 4810 Natural Resources Law
  • FISH(ECOL)(MARS)(WILD) 4300/4300L Environmental Biology of Fishes
  • FISH(ECOL) 4360 Fish Ecology
  • WASR 4400/4400L Introduction to Wetlands
  • WASR 4700L Hydrology, Geology and Soils of Georgia

*This is not an exhaustive list; please see the UGA Bulletin for more options.