An ecologist deals with the relationships between living things and between living things and the biosphere in which they exist.

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Ecologists usually choose to specialise in a particular environment, such as marine or terrestrial, and study the interaction between the living things within that ecosystem. They record and monitor the range and numbers of species living within a specific area and are concerned with the preservation of environments and the organisms which live within them.

Ecologists are based in either offices or laboratories and carry out fieldwork in locations throughout the world, sometimes in extreme environments and conditions.

Work activities

  • Carrying out independent research or collaborating with other scientists.
  • Advising planning projects and educating the public about the environment.
  • Conducting environmental impact assessments.
  • Travelling to various locations to conduct fieldwork.
  • Keeping and updating records and databases.
  • Providing information about environmental risks to planning committees, companies and governments.

Work conditions

Travel: is dependent on nature of work; fieldwork generally requires travel.
Working hours: typically office hours, but may involve evenings and weekends for fieldwork or certain projects.
Location: fieldwork can be based overseas in remote locations, sometimes in extreme weather conditions.

Entry requirements

A range of degree subjects can lead to a career in ecology, including ecology, environmental sciences, biology subjects, geography, applied life sciences and zoology. Postgraduate degrees and diplomas in ecology and conservation are offered by institutions throughout the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and are generally required for consultancy positions.

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