Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and the environment. In reality, modern ecology is much broader than this, encompassing studies on individuals, species, populations, communities and ecosystems, and including behaviour, evolution, physiology and increasingly, molecular biology. In New Zealand, the study of ecology is especially important. As a small group of islands separated from larger land masses, the New Zealand flora and fauna evolved unique characteristics in the absence of mammals. The invasion of New Zealand by humans, and the organisms (including mammals) that they introduced has dramatically altered its ecology, leading to drastic reductions in numbers, or even extinctions of the original animals and plants. In addition, global climate change is affecting the ecology of New Zealand, altering the distribution of both native and introduced organisms.
Year 13 biology and mathematics (with statistics) is strongly recommended. Some background in chemistry is valuable in most biological disciplines. Some knowledge of geography or earth science is also helpful. All students should have adequate English skills.
In addition to the three core 100-level Biological Sciences courses (BIOL 111, BIOL 112 and BIOL 113), first-year courses in Chemistry, Geography and Geology are recommended (CHEM 111, GEOG 106, GEOG 109, GEOL 111 and GEOL 112). Introductory statistics (STAT 101) is also strongly recommended.
Students seeking an endorsement in Ecology need to take the core ecology course BIOL 270 Ecology, plus BIOL 271 Evolution. In addition, they need to take BIOL 209 Introduction to Biological Data Analysis. At third year there is a wide range of Ecology courses to choose from.
Ecologists can take up a wide range of careers working for organisations such as the Department of Conservation, city councils, Environment Canterbury, universities and Crown Research Institutes, as well as with private companies such as environmental consulting agencies. Their work can take them to a wide range of beautiful and unique areas in New Zealand and beyond.
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers