The Mission

The mission of the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology is to provide science-based research, instruction, and extension that supports forest and wildlife conservation and management in an ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable fashion.

The Legacy

The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology is part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was founded in 1933 when the University created a Chair in Game Management for Professor Aldo Leopold. Six years later, Leopold,who is generally considered the father of wildlife management, formed the Department of Wildlife Management. This was the first academic department in the world dedicated to the emerging field of wildlife management. Forestry research was conducted in several college programs and in 1959, the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management was created to organize forestry and wildlife research under one program.

Aldo Leopold and some of the species and landscapes he helped conserve. Photo courtesy: Aldo Leopold Foundation; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

In 1962, the college created separate Departments of Forestry and Wildlife Management. A further change in 1967 created the Department of Wildlife Ecology, a name more in keeping with the Department’s emphasis on the inter-relationships of animals and their physical environment. In 1997, the department name was changed to the Department of Forest Ecology and Management. The two departments were again combined in 2007 to form the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

Throughout its history, the Department had remained committed to excellence in teaching, mentoring, and scholarly research. We are proud of the 2,600 alumni who have graduated from our programs and now serve as researchers, scientists, practitioners, policy makers, and academic leaders across the United States and in other countries.

Faculty & Staff

The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology is comprised of internationally renown teaching and research faculty members, many of whom are recognized as leaders in their research fields. The faculty is also assisted by adjunct and affiliated faculty who serve on graduate student exam committees, provide entry into off campus programs and industry, offer graduate seminars, and increase our visibility in the scientific community. In addition, we are fortunate to have dedicated academic staff and administrators who provide quality instruction and guidance to our students.


Undergraduate Programs
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Mar 2nd

Undergraduate Programs

The Department offers two majors, one in Forest Science and one in Wildlife Ecology.  Both majors are offered through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Bachelor’s of Science degree. Undergraduate enrollments total 39 in Forest Science and 76 in Wildlife Ecology. Both degrees provide students strong science and research-based instruction toward careers as resource managers in private, non-profit, and public sectors.

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Graduate Programs
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May 8th

Graduate Programs

The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology offers two distinct graduate programs, MS and PhD degrees in Forestry and MS and PhD degrees in Wildlife Ecology.  Each program has its own area of expertise and faculty advisors (though some interests and faculty advisors can be found in both). Our research projects employ over 125 staff, graduate students, trainees, and other workers. Nearly all of the 83 MS and PHD graduate students on these projects have their tuition paid on grants.


The Departments’ main office is located in Russell Laboratories on University of Wisconsin-Madison’s main campus.  Russell Laboratories was completed in 1964 and has housed the Department since that time. This space includes classrooms, faculty offices and laboratory space and staff offices. Seating for graduate students and post-docs is normally found within the principal investigator’s lab space. The Department hosts the Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit in partnership with the US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Kemp Natural Resources Stations supports research, outreach and education in natural resources for the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The Department has close ties with Kemp Natural Resource Station. Located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, Kemp Station is dedicated to programs of research, instruction, and outreach concerning the management, conservation, and preservation of northern Wisconsin’s natural resources. Modest laboratory facilities augment research programs conducted on the station and elsewhere in the area.