How to Declare
To declare the Wildlife Ecology major students must meet with CALS Transitional Advising and Outreach Services, the Russell Labs Academic Advising Manager Allee Hochmuth in particular. If you have questions about the field of Wildlife Ecology, please contact Dr. Anna Pidgeon. For general information on admissions to the University of Wisconsin-Madison please visit the Undergraduate Admissions website.
Major and Degree Requirements
University General Education Requirements
- 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
CALS BS Degree Requirements
- First Year Seminar
- International Studies
- Physical Science Fundamentals – CHEM 103, 108, or 109: 4-5 credits
- Biological Science: 5 credits
- Additional Science: 3 credits
- Science Breadth: 3 credits
There may be overlap between University, CALS, and Wildlife Ecology major requirements. Students are strongly encouraged to work with their advisor to understand how these sets of requirements work together.
Wildlife Ecology Major Requirements
Wildlife Ecology students complete the CALS degree requirements, the common major requirements and one of two tracks. The Wildlife Ecology major tracks are Natural Sciences and Natural Resources. The Natural Sciences track allows students to complete 14-15 credits of basic math and science courses that might be useful for graduate school or wildlife biologist certification through the Wildlife Society. The Natural Resources track allows students to complete 14-17 credits of courses focused on management, resources and conservation.
The course requirements for the major include:
- Mathematics: MATH 112/113, 114, 171 or may be satisfied by placement exam (5-6 credits)
- Statistics: STAT 224, 301, 371, 541 or 571 (3 credits)
- Chemistry: CHEM 103, 108* or 109 (4-5 credits), *only for natural resources students
- Biology: BIOLOGY 151 and 152, or ZOOLOGY 101/102 and BOTANY 130, or BIOCORE 383, 384, 485, 486 (10 credits)
- Wildlife Ecology Core: complete all of the following categories
- Wildlife Ecology: F&W ECOL 101, 306, 318, 379, 561 and 655 (17 credits)
- Plant Taxonomy: BOTANY 400 or 401 (4 credits)
- Anatomy/Physiology: F&W ECOL 401, PHYSIOL 335, ZOOLOGY 430 or 611 (3-5 credits)
- Evolution/Genetics: ZOOLOGY 410 or GENETICS 466, students who take Biocore may use Biocore 381 and 382 (3-5 credits)
- Wildlife Biology: F&W ECOL 520/521 or ZOOLOGY 510/511 (5-6 credits)
- Breadth: AGRONOMY 370, ENVIR ST 361, 375, F&W ECOL 360, 375 (topics vary, check with advisor), 402, 404, 424, 515, 548, 550, 565, 632, 633, 634, 651, 660, ZOOLOGY 315, 316, 504, 535 (needs to total 3 credits, unless F&W ECOL 424 is taken)
- Track Courses: complete one of the tracks below
- Natural Sciences: MATH [221, 217 or 221] and CHEM  and PHYSICS [103, 201 or 207] (14-15 credits)
- Natural Resources: Wildlife Resource elective [2 of 3 from F&W ECOL 404 424, 515] and Conservation Biology [F&W ECOL 360 or 651 or 660] and Forest Management [F&W ECOL 410, 452, 500, 652 or 658] and Natural Resources Management electives [C&E SOC 248, 434, 541, F&W ECOL 335, 531, ENVIR ST 339, 343, 368, 449, or 575] (12-17 credits)
- Capstone: F&W ECOL 577 or 599, or independent study in consultation with the faculty advisor, see below for form (3 credits)
Additional information regarding general education requirements and a sample 4-year plan can he found in the UW-Madison Guide.
Independent Study Credits: Any student completing either F&W ECOL 299 or 699 credits are required to complete the Forest & Wildlife Ecology Independent Study Agreement form with their independent study instructor. A copy of this form should be kept by both the student and the instructor. The only exception is for students using the independent study credits for their capstone, those students should use the capstone agreement form below.
Independent Study Capstone: The majority of Wildlife Ecology majors complete one of the two capstone courses (F&W ECOL 577 or 599), but students also have the option of completing an independent study capstone, typically F&W ECOL 699. Students who wish to pursue this option will need to submit the independent study capstone form to their faculty advisor in order to receive permission to use the independent study option towards the capstone requirement for graduation.
Wildlife Ecology Learning Goals
Undergraduate students majoring in Wildlife Ecology will develop the following competencies:
- 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.
- Explain and discuss principles of wildlife management including natural resource legislation, policy, and applications.
- Explain and apply the scientific methods including designing and conducting experiments and testing hypotheses.
- Explain and demonstrate techniques for collection of data in laboratory and field settings, keep accurate records, and analyze data to address hypotheses.
- Demonstrate a style appropriate for communicating scientific results in written and oral form. Provide opportunity to develop these communication skills.
Wildlife Ecology Summer Field Camp at Kemp Natural Resources Station
Every other summer Wildlife Ecology students have the option of participating in the Wildlife Ecology Summer Field Camp at Kemp Natural Resources Station in northern Wisconsin as F&W ECOL 424 Wildlife Ecology Summer Field Practicum. The two week field class emphasizes research and habitat management techniques through individual and group field work, tours, demonstrations and lectures. Transportation and lodging is provided to the participants.
Undergraduate Advising in Wildlife Ecology
All undergraduate students are assigned to a faculty and staff advisor when they declare the major.
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.
Even though it is not required for graduation, Wildlife Ecology students often elect to do a summer internship to gain additional skills. Students are encouraged to talk to their advisor about internship possibilities, departmental internship policies and how to receive credit (F&W ECOL 399) for an internship. The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department strongly encourages all students pursuing an internship to use the following two forms:
Students should note that any internship done for credit will require a faculty sponsor to enroll in a section of F&W ECOL399 Coordinated Internship/Cooperative Education.
The Wildlife Society
There is a UW-Madison chapter of the Wildlife Society. For more information on the society please visit the Wildlife Society University of Wisconsin-Madison Student Chapter website or their Facebook Page.
Careers and Professional Development
For more information on careers available to Forest & 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 Career Resources page.