The fate of our planet depends on a new generation of highly skilled conservation ecologists. As an SNRE student in this interdisciplinary field of study, you will become a change-driven scientist capable of developing novel approaches to the sustainable management of wildlands, protected areas, and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Earth’s oceans, lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands are increasingly focal points for global concerns about usage, pollution, and depletion. In addition, biodiversity loss has been identified as one of the great challenges of our time. The potential demise of one-fourth or more of the Earth’s species before the end of this century represents an irreversible loss of nature and may significantly undermine the sustainable use of nature’s services.

Conservation ecologists are working to reverse the environmental damage done by the rapid encroachment of human populations and economies, and build a long-term plan to sustain our precious natural resources.

“I chose the Conservation Ecology field of study because I feel that any kind of environmental work I plan to do should come from a place of strong ecological knowledge. This track is helping me build a baseline understanding of the processes at the root of all environmental policy, management, conservation, education, and advocacy.”

—Daniel Buonaiuto, Conservation Ecology student track leader


In SNRE’s Conservation Ecology classes, labs, and fieldwork, you will study local, regional, national, and international environmental issues ranging from urban settings to wilderness areas. You may focus your coursework around a specific topic or blend classes and experiences to create a truly interdisciplinary experience. You will learn the fundamental concepts and techniques necessary for the study of ecosystems, as well as how to apply them to solve complex problems, preparing you to become both a scientist and practitioner in the field. 

Course Sampling

  • Fluvial Ecosystems
  • Geology of the Great Lakes
  • Coastal Hydraulics
  • Forest Ecology
  • Ecological Risk Assessment
  • Psychology of Environmental Stewardship
  • Field Skills in Wildlife Behavior


Graduates of SNRE's Conservation Ecology field of study are well prepared to work in research, management, restoration, consulting, and education within government, nonprofits, environmental consulting agencies, and private corporations. Specific positions include fisheries biologists, limnologists, ecologists, remote-sensing specialists, wetlands ecologists, and natural resource managers, just name a few. Some of our graduates also continue into PhD programs and get academic jobs at institutions of higher education. The following are select employers of Con Eco graduates:

 Top Conservation Ecology employers