News reports and television programs about nature evoke both wonder and worry among audiences. Nature films provide glimpses of amazing, colorful or even bizarre looking creatures, yet the habitats needed by these species are disappearing. Forests in the poorest parts of the world are being cleared for their timber and converted to agriculture. Climate change alters the temperature or rainfall patterns critical to species survival.
In the Odum School of Ecology, students interested in conservation and biological diversity have many opportunities to explore these topics. The role of human actions on ecological systems is the foundation of the ecology curriculum starting with the introductory course for majors, ECOL 3500 Ecology. Students with a conservation interest take ECOL 3530 Conservation Biology, which covers the scientific principles related to conservation and important case studies.
Students planning to work for non-profit conservation organizations continue with courses in the science of conservation as well as complementary courses in environmental economics and natural resources law. Students planning to work for agencies responsible for managing endangered species or habitats will concentrate on the biological needs of species and ecosystem studies.
Internships and research projects provide experience and contacts that are helpful in conservation careers. Students may work with Odum School faculty to study the factors that contribute to the decline of amphibians or even species rescue projects. Other students participate in sea turtle conservation projects or work on the impacts of non-native species on marine communities.
Conservation emphasis students are strongly encouraged to participate in study abroad and other field programs. The UGA Costa Rica program in Tropical Biology is an intensive training experience well suited for conservation studies. Shorter field courses include courses taught at the Georgia coast and Florida Keys.