Conservation Biology

Requirements for Ecology students who wish to pursue the option in conservation biology


Conservation biology is concerned with the problems of maintaining the rapidly disappearing diversity of organisms and natural habitats, and the global reservoir of genetic diversity that these organisms represent. In large part, conservation biology is a multi-disciplinary, mission-oriented science that attempts to integrate new and current knowledge to help solve many environmental problems facing society today. These problems may include loss of critical habitat for species of concern, restoration of ecosystems, preservation of biodiversity, and a multitude of other problems associated with the modern world.

Future issues in conservation biology can only be met by the proper training of academic scientists and practitioners in this growing field.

Penn State has a tradition of producing leaders and scientists in the field of conservation biology. In order to centralize and formalize the student's training in this area, the Conservation Biology Option for the MS and PhD in Ecology has been instituted. Graduation with this option will document the student's preparation and competence to contribute to this increasingly important area of science.

Requirements for the MS or PhD Degree in Ecology with Conservation Biology Option

  1. The student shall meet normal criteria for the MS or PhD in Ecology.
  2. The student's research adviser shall be a member of the Conservation Biology faculty subset of the Ecology Program faculty. Other committee members may be chosen as needed, providing that Ecology Program members comprise the majority.
  3. In addition to the normal Ecology Program requirements, the student shall be required to take:
    • Two courses (6 credits): FOR/WFS 430, Conservation Biology; BIOL/ENT/WFS 542, Systematics; or BIOL 428, Population Genetics
    • A minimum of 5 additional credits from the list of approved courses (below), chosen in consultation with the student's committee
    • Any other course work or training deemed appropriate by the student's committee.
  4. The student's MS or PhD thesis shall, in substantial measure, contain new results in the area of conservation biology, as judged by the student's committee and the option coordinator.



  • BIOL 414 Taxonomy of Seed Plants (3)
  • BIOL 422 Advanced Genetics (3)
  • BIOL 427 Evolution (3)
  • BIOL 428 Population Genetics (3)
  • BIOL 454 Herpetology (2)
  • BIOL 501 Ecological Genetics (3)
  • BIOL 514 Topics in Plant Systematics and Evolution (2)
  • BIOL 542 Systematics (3)
  • BIOL 545 Ecosystem Dynamics (3)
  • BIOL 546 Ecology of Populations (3)


  • ENT 425 Freshwater Entomology (3)
  • ENT 456 Methods and Strategies for Insect Pest Management (3)
  • ENT 542 Systematics (3) 

Environmental Resource Management

  • ERM 413 Case Studies in Ecosystem Management (3)


  • WFS-FOR 430 Conservation Biology (3)
  • FOR 466 Forest Resource Management (3)
  • FOR 480 Policy and Administration (3)
  • FOR 508 Forest Ecology (3) 


  • GEOG 497E Landscape Ecology (3)

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

  • WFS 407 Ornithology (3)
  • WFS 408 Mammalogy (3)
  • WFS 409 Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Laboratory (2)
  • WFS 422 Ecology of Fishes (3)
  • WFS 430 Conservation Biology (3)
  • WFS 446 Wildlife and Fisheries Population Dynamics (3)
  • WFS 447 Wildlife Management (3)
  • WFS 452 Ichthyology (2)
  • WFS 453 Ichthyology Laboratory (2)
  • WFS 463 Fishery Management (3)
  • WFS 529 Fish Population Dynamics (3)
  • WFS 536 Freshwater Field Ecology (3)
  • WFS 542 Systematics (3)
  • WFS 550 Wetland Ecology and Management (3)
  • WFS 551 Wildlife and Fisheries Population Dynamics (3)
  • WFS 552 Systematics and Evolution of Fishes (3)
  • WFS 555 Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management (3)