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.

Professional Development

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.

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
  • 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
  • PBIO 4650/4650L Plant Taxonomy
  • WILD(ECOL) 3580/3580L Vertebrate Natural History
  • WILD 4040/4040L Herpetology
  • WILD(ECOL) 4060/4060L Ornithology
Methods and Skills Requirement (choose 1)*
  • ECOL 3510 Ecology Laboratory
  • ECOL 4960 Research
  • FANR 3800/3800L Spatial Analysis of Natural Resources and Laboratory
Major Electives (choose 4 courses)*
  • ECOL 3100/3100L Tropical Field Ecology
  • ECOL 3220 Biology and Conservation of Marine Mammals
  • ECOL 3530 Conservation Biology
  • ECOL 3600 Tropical Ecology: From Organisms to Ecosystems
  • ECOL 3770S Urban Ecology
  • ECOL(FANR) 4220 Foundations of Restoration Ecology
  • ECOL(BIOL)(MARS) 4330/4330L Tropical Marine Invertebrates
  • EETH 4220 Environmental Ethics
  • ENVM 4650 Environmental Economics
  • FANR 3300/3300L Economics of Renewable Resources
  • FANR 4350 Conservation Genetics
  • GEOG 3620 Introduction to Economic Geography

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