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Wildlife Ecology

Administrative Unit:Forest and Wildlife Ecology
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Karasov (chair), Radeloff; Associate Professor Drake, Lutz, Ribic, Samuel, Van Deelen; Assistant Professors Pauli, Peery, Pidgeon, Zuckerberg


The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology offers graduate education and training in a number of areas leading to the master of science and/or the doctor of philosophy degree in forestry, or in wildlife ecology. The department takes pride in its program's outstanding research reputation and the success of graduates working throughout the world.

The wildlife ecology program was founded by Aldo Leopold in 1939, and the program has maintained his vision and legacy of excellence in our current research and graduate training activities. Leopold's career spanned two professions, forestry and wildlife conservation. The program strives to maintain excellence in both fields.

Master's and doctoral work in wildlife ecology is offered in the following areas: behavioral ecology, physiological ecology, population dynamics, wildlife disease, community ecology, wildlife management, wildlife-habitat linkages, molecular ecology, human dimensions, species distribution modeling, climate change, endangered species recovery, conservation biology, toxicology, and wildlife damage management.

The department is home to the U.S. Geological Survey's Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit. In this program, research in support of the partnership between state and federal wildlife conservation programs are given priority.

In recent years, annual research support for the department's programs has averaged between three to four million dollars drawn from an array of federal (NSF, NASA, USDA), state (WDNR, Focus on Energy), and conservation organizations and private donors. Competition for admission is very strong and not every admissible student can or will be offered financial support. Graduate assistantships and/or fellowships may be available for a limited number of well-qualified students. Before submitting an application for admission, interested students should contact individual faculty to determine whether an assistantship or other financial aid might be available. Once admitted, students work closely with major professors and an advisory committee to develop a research program.

Financial Aid

Students making satisfactory progress are normally provided with assistantships or fellowships for the typical duration of a graduate program (usually fewer than six academic semesters and three summer sessions for the M.S. degree, and fewer than eight academic semesters and four summer sessions for the Ph.D. degree). Details of funding will be established before the first semester.


The equivalent of a bachelor's degree in forestry, wildlife ecology or a related field is required for admission with full standing to pursue graduate studies in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology. Students with undergraduate work in other fields may be admitted with deficiencies; these deficiencies must be satisfied prior to graduation. Academic requirements for admission are those of The Graduate School and the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology; Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are required.

For more information: Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, 226 Russell Labs, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-9975; rodock@wisc.edu; fwe.wisc.edu.