Photo by Ben Atkinson

Department Overview

Who We Are

The Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation is composed of a vibrant, diverse and talented faculty with a balanced mixture of Assistant, Associate and full Professors. We have long-standing expertise in wildlife management science, landscape ecology, human dimensions, protected lands management, population biology, conservation biology, and wetland ecology. Our expanding expertise in ecological valuation, disease ecology and global change strategically positions us to maintain leadership in natural resource management and conservation. We work closely with state, national, and international partners to tackle large scale natural resource management issues like Everglades restoration, Grand Canyon hydrological management, the BP oil spill and management of subtropical and tropical ecosystems worldwide. WEC also spearheaded the university's involvement as a hub in the NSF funded National Ecological Observatory Network. Our ongoing and expanding international collaborations in such places as Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Swaziland and Grenada give our department a truly global perspective.

WEC by the Numbers


Our department is composed of 28 faculty members, 25 of which reside at the main campus in Gainesville, 37 adjunct and affiliate faculty, and 9 staff members. Faculty effort is divided among research (56%), teaching (30%) and extension appointments (14%). In addition, the department maintains an operating budget of ~$200,000 per year. Our faculty produces ~200 publications annually, and currently trains ~33 Ph.D. and 25 M.S. students. Faculty typically bring in ~$3M in grants per year.

"The mission of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation is to foster education, expand knowledge, and reward scholarship, using multi-disciplinary approaches, for the purpose of understanding, managing, and conserving biological resources. The primary goal of our teaching, research, and extension programs is to develop and communicate the knowledge necessary for enhancing the conservation and management of wildlife and their habitats for the greatest aesthetic, ecological, economic, and recreational values".

The Academic Community

UFThe University of Florida is among the top 20 publically funded research institutions in the United States. As a land grant university, UF is a center for teaching, research and extension in the fields of natural resources, agriculture, and land management and one of the few places those disciplines are successfully combined. Th e UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is the 4th ranked agricultural college in the world, and ranks 11th in Environmental Sciences programs. Th e university has an open and collaborative atmosphere which has resulted in numerous cross-college institutes and centers including the Emerging Pathogens Institute, the Florida Climate Institute, and the Water Institute.

Students at WEC

Ernane Vieira Neto Postgraduation positions

WEC faculty train approximately 200 undergraduate majors, focusing on 4 tracks: ecology, management, human dimensions, and quantitative ecology. We also train about 30 PhD and 25 MS students at any one time, mostly supported on competitive grants and fellowships, and many of whom receive national and international recognition for their work. Th e WEC graduate body is composed of 25% international students, 22% minority students and 51% female students. Our PhD students have an excellent history of finding productive jobs in the STEM and conservation workforce.

Alphabet Soup? We're a Bowlful!

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WEC sits centrally within a rich web of professional and institutional natural resource connections both within and outside the University. Within, WEC hosts the U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Research Unit, and has close ties with the Departments of Biology, Soil and Water Science, Environmental Engineering, Geography, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Geomatics, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Florida Museum of Natural History, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for African Studies, and Center for Wetlands to name a few. Within Gainesville, there are frequent collaborations with the US Geological Survey Southeast Ecological Science Center, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services Field Station, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Lab, and several US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge offi ces. Two research stations are located nearby; Ordway- Swisher Biological Station is located in a large remnant sandhill pine ecosystem and is a regional hub for the newly launched NEON ecological observing network. Seahorse Key Marine Lab is located on a coastal island in the Gulf of Mexico.

Location, Location...

FloridaA modern biologist's Eden, Florida spans subtropical to temperate, xeric to sodden, grassland to coral reef, urban to unpopulated. Florida off ers unique and unspoiled natural laboratories - one third of the state's landmass is now protected in conservation lands, 29 National Wildlife Refuges are located in Florida, the coasts are home to more National Estuarine Reserves than any other state, and Florida contains the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline and the largest roadless area in the lower 48 states. Florida also has the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world (Everglades), the largest conservation lands purchase program and the largest state fi sh and wildlife agency in the U.S.

BirdFlorida is also a compelling place to ask questions of relevance for the rest of the world. Florida's low lying coasts are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, and to changes in the severity of both tropical cyclones and freezing weather. Biomass production, alternative energy and their potential ecological eff ects are also of deep interest to this highly agricultural state. With the second highest number of exotic and introduced species in the US, Florida has a very direct interest in understanding and managing these threats. With over 9.9 million acres in conservation lands, Florida is a leader in ecological restoration techniques and ecosystem management.

Florida is also a perfect location for tropical ecologists, with a long history of cultural and economic connections with the Caribbean and South America and the largest two airports in the US serving South America. UF has been deeply rooted in Latin American and African conservation and is a way station for visiting tropical ecologists from all over the world.

We're International

InternationalThe Department has a 30-year history of biodiversity research, training conservation professionals, and building conservation programs in tropical and temperate regions around the world. WEC faculty direct internationally recognized, cross-campus programs (Tropical Conservation and Development Program, Program for Studies in Tropical Conservation, and the Southern Cone Conservation Leadership Initiative). We have trained more than 250 graduate students and conservation practitioners from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Th e Latin American Wildlife Congress founded by WEC faculty brings together more than 600 scientists and practitioners from Latin America biannually, and international partnerships developed by WEC faculty, such as a new cooperative agreement between UF and the Argentine National Science Council, facilitate research on problems of global significance. WEC's study abroad programs and leadership in NSF IGERT training programs help undergraduate and graduate students confront and solve problems across the globe with study experiences in New Zealand, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, and Swaziland. UF is a founding member of the Organization for Tropical Studies. WEC graduate alumni also occupy leadership positions in conservation. They are now developing the first graduate programs in wildlife conservation and ecology in their home countries, directing research and conservation programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and The Nature Conservancy, and heading governmental natural resource management agencies.


WEC's extension programs ( extension/) address issues and provide information related to the use, conservation, management, and appreciation of wildlife and other natural resources. Our programs reach decision-makers, natural resource professionals, and lay audiences. Impacts of our programs benefit large and small property owners and both rural and urban clientele. WEC faculty disseminate extension information via mass media, field experiences, and traditional educational materials and presentations and form partnerships with public and private organizations. WEC faculty have published over 220 online extension publications and many extension programs have won state and national awards. The impact of WEC extension programs are far reaching and have been very successful in creating a statewide group of educated and engaged citizens and professionals working towards goals of biodiversity conservation, management, and restoration.