Conservation Biology

What is Conservation Biology?

Biodiversity is the sum total of all living organisms on earth. Conservation biology is the discipline that deals with protection of the world’s biodiversity. Biodiversity conservation requires an understanding not only of organisms and their interactions with environments (ecology), but also of:

  • How biodiversity changes through time (genetics and evolution)
  • How people value biodiversity (philosophy and ethics)
  • How modern economic systems influence the lifestyle and conservation choices people are willing to make (economics, sociology)
  • How globalization affects the distribution of organisms through space and time as well as the transfer of knowledge, values and cultures, (global studies) and
  • How this transfer influences biodiversity (global studies) and the art and science of conservation management and policy (environmental studies, government, biology).

The major is designed for students who are interested in learning the tools and skills used to describe, understand and protect biological diversity on our planet. It is suitable for any undergraduate, including those who wish to teach, attend graduate school or join the conservation workforce upon graduation.

Although the biology department coordinates the major, faculty from departments across the University collaborate in offering courses for it. They are committed to teaching in a liberal arts environment and at the same time maintain active research programs related to biodiversity conservation.

Students pursing this major will have the opportunity to participate in these research endeavors. Objectives of the major are that students 1) gain knowledge about fundamental principles important to the conservation of global biodiversity, 2) learn the particular methods associated with biodiversity conservation, 3) develop an appreciation for conservation needs at both local and global levels, 4) participate in a meaningful conservation- oriented research project or internship and 5)prepare for careers in conservation biology.

Working in Conservation Biology
Characteristics and Skills Necessary for Success

  • Interest in nature, how things work and conducting research
  • Problem solving skills
  • Analytical and organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Logical thinking
  • Able to work with laboratory equipment and computers
  • Skilled in the use of clear, concise communication
  • Able to work well with other members of a team

Click HERE for a table on Career Areas, Employers, and Strategies for Employment

Sample Job Titles

Fish and Game Warden
Forest and Conservation Workers
Marine Biologist
Park Naturalist
Range Manager
Soil and Water Conservationist

Learning More About Conservation Biology

  • Visit the SLU Conservation Biology Department website
  • Check out Conservation Biology course descriptions in the Catalog
  • Talk with a professor in Conservation Biology about the major. Click here for a list of possible questions to ask.
  • Perform an informational interview with a professional in the field. Click here for information on how to find a professional, contacting them, and a list of possible questions.
  • Get connected with SLU alum in the field through SAINTSLink, participate in Shadow-a-Saint or complete an Internship.

Additional Resources

Related Majors and Minors at SLU
Global Studies