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Mammalogist: Job Description and Education Requirements

Mammalogists are biological scientists that study the various aspects pertaining to mammals. They typically work in museums, zoos and government agencies. Education requirements include a bachelor's degree with a biology focus. Entry into some research or teaching positions generally requires completing graduate studies in a specialized area of zoology, wildlife management or environmental studies.

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Mammalogist Job Description

Mammalogists, sometimes called zoologists or wildlife biologists, are biological scientists that study mammal population management, taxonomy, evolutionary history, behavior, anatomy and physiology. These professionals also look at how mammals interact with their environment.

Duties

Mammalogists' job duties include helping manage wild game species like rabbits, deer and birds. Mammalogists may also be responsible for controlling rodent populations and ensuring that they don't harm agricultural crops. Other duties include protecting wildlife habitats and preventing wildlife diseases from spreading to humans and domestic animal species.

Workplace

According to the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM), mammalogists may find employment at zoos, museums, private game preservations, veterinary offices, universities and academic institutions (www.mammalsociety.org). They may also work for various state and federal game departments like U.S. National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that 34% of zoologists and wildlife biologists, a category that includes mammalogists, worked in federal, state and local government agencies as of 2010 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists was expected to rise 7% from 2010-2020. This rise is in part due to population growth and the increasing need to study human impact on wildlife and their habitats. As of May 2012, the BLS reported a median annual salary of $57,710 for zoologists and wildlife biologists.

Education Requirements

Mammalogists typically begin their undergraduate studies by majoring in zoology, biology, ecology, or similar fields. Undergraduate classes in these majors focus on genetics, anatomy, biology, ecology, botany, environment and evolution of human and animal species. Students also enroll in lab courses allowing them to gain hands-on experience with lab equipment, observe chemical reactions and study mammal biochemistry.

Graduate Programs

After achieving bachelor's degrees, mammalogists may pursue their studies further by earning a master's or doctoral degree in a specialized field like zoology, wildlife management or environmental science. These programs may offer students the opportunity to take coursework geared towards mammalian physiology, toxicology and other subjects. Students may be required to complete independent studies on topics in marine biology, mammal behavior and molecular ecology. Some academic institutions are affiliated with museums or zoos where students may participate in valuable field studies and work experiences.

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