Conservation Ecology - Bachelor of Science in Conservation Ecology

Co-directors of the Program:

Professor, Charles Shuster, Department Head, Biology
Professor, Matthew Gompper, Department Head, Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology

Professors Bailey, Boecklen, Boeing, Caldwell, Cowley, Desmond, Gompper, Hanley, Houde, James, Milligan, Roemer, Smith, Wright; Associate Professors Cain, Mabry; Assistant Professors Orr

New Mexico State University offers an interdisciplinary, undergraduate program in Conservation Ecology. The goal of this program is to train biologists for the current and future challenges that we face in the conservation and wise use of our Earth’s natural resources. An overriding principle of the program is to provide a solid foundation in basic science coupled with a practical approach towards sustainability and stewardship. The curriculum encompasses several disciplines and includes a wide variety of courses from the Biology; Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology; Geography; and Range Science departments.

The educational experience will provide students with an overview of global biodiversity and an understanding of the ecological and evolutionary processes that have created and sustained it. Courses in population and community ecology coupled with population viability analysis and risk assessment will give students the necessary background to understand the theory and development of these fields as well as the tools to tackle real-world problems. Courses in basic genetics, evolution, and conservation genetics will expose students to the importance of conserving genetic variation in order to maintain adaptive potential within populations, thereby sustaining the evolutionary process. Students will also receive background on wildlife law and environmental policy, information vital for assisting governing bodies in making decisions regarding the protection and wise use of our natural resources. Skills obtained in the application of geographic information systems, molecular genetics, and professional communication can also be acquired through various electives. In sum, we seek to provide undergraduate students with an education that will allow them the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of all life on Earth.

The requirements are listed below. In addition, each required course must be passed with a grade of C- or better.

Students must complete all University degree requirements, which include: General Education requirements, Viewing a Wider World requirements, and elective credits to total at least 120 credits with 48 credits in courses numbered 300 or above. Developmental coursework will not count towards the degree requirements and/or elective credits, but may be needed in order to take the necessary English and Mathematics coursework.

Prefix Title Credits
General Education
Area I: Communications
English Composition - Level 1 14
English Composition - Level 23
Professional and Technical Communication Honors (preferred)3
Oral Communication 13
Area II: Mathematics3-4
Applications of Calculus I 23
Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
Area III/IV: Laboratory Sciences and Social/Behavioral Sciences11
General Chemistry I Lecture and Laboratory for STEM Majors4
General Chemistry II Lecture and Laboratory for STEM Majors4
Choose one from the following (3 credits):
Survey of Economics3
Macroeconomic Principles3
Principles of Microeconomics 3
Area V: Humanities 13
Area VI: Creative and Fine Arts 13
General Education Elective
FWCE 1110GIntroduction to Natural Resources Management4
Viewing a Wider World3
One VWW course will be met with the 9-credit rule 3
Major Requirements
BIOL 2610G
BIOL 2610L
Principles of Biology: Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolution
and Principles of Biology: Biodiversity, Ecology, and Evolution Laboratory
BIOL 2110G
BIOL 2110L
Principles of Biology: Cellular and Molecular Biology
and Principles of Biology: Cellular and Molecular Biology Laboratory
BIOL 301Principles of Ecology3
or FWCE 301 Wildlife Ecology
BIOL 305Principles of Genetics3
or AGRO 305 Principles of Genetics
BIOL 312Plant Taxonomy3
or RGSC 316 Rangeland Plants
BIOL 313Structure and Function of Plants3
BIOL 322Zoology3
BIOL 455Biometry3
or FWCE 457 Ecological Biometry
BIOL 462Conservation Biology3
BIOL 467Evolution3
BIOL 488Principles of Conservation Genetics3
or BCHE 341 Survey of Biochemistry
FWCE 2110Principles of Fish and Wildlife Management3
FWCE 330Natural History of the Vertebrates4
FWCE 402Seminar in Natural Resource Management1
FWCE 409Introduction to Population Ecology3
FWCE 447Wildlife Law and Policy3
FWCE 464Management of Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems3
Physiology Requirement3-4
Plant Physiology3
Physiology of Humans
and Laboratory of Human Physiology
Animal Physiology3
Anatomy and Physiology of Farm Animals4
Environmental Biology of Fishes4
Diversity of Life Requirement6-8
Animal Behavior3
Economic Entomology3
Avian Field Ecology4
Non-Departmental Requirements (in addition to Gen.Ed/VWW)
CHEM 2120
Integrated Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry
and Integrated Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry Lab
Choose one from the following:4
Algebra-Based Physics I
and Algebra-Based Physics I Lab
General Physics for Life Science I
and Laboratory to General Physics for Life Science I
Choose one from the following:4
Algebra-Based Physics II
and Algebra-Based Physics II Lab
General Physics for Life Science II
and Laboratory to General Physics for Life Science II
Second Language: (not required)
Electives, to bring the total credits to 120 46-10
Select additional electives to bring total to 120 credits including 48 upper division credits. 5
Total Credits120

See the General Education Section of the catalog for a full list of courses.


Either MATH 1430G Applications of Calculus I or MATH 1521G Calculus and Analytic Geometry II is required for the degree but students may need to take any prerequisites needed to enter these courses.


One Viewing a Wider World course will be satisfied using the 9-hour rule: students with Biology as home department use FWCE courses and students with Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology as home department use BIOL courses.


Other related courses may include BIOL 436 Disease Vector Biology, BIOL 442 Genomics Technology, BIOL 446 Bioinformatics and NCBI Database, BIOL 469 Biology of Emerging Infectious Diseases, ECON 337V Natural Resource Economics, GEOG 381 Cartography and GIS, GEOG 481 Fundamentals of GIS, GEOL 1110G Physical Geology, GEOL 424 Soil Chemistry, POLS 378 U.S.-Mexico Border Politics, RGSC 318 Watershed Management, RGSC 325 Rangeland Restoration Ecology, RGSC 452 Vegetation Measurements for Rangeland Assessment.  


Elective credit may vary based on prerequisites, dual credit, AP credit, double majors, and/or minor coursework. The elective credits in the requirements list is the amount needed to bring the total to 120 credits and may vary based on the degree. Students may need to complete more or less courses on a case-by-case basis and each student should discuss elective requirements with their advisor.

Second Language Requirement

For the Bachelor of Science in Conservation Ecology there is no second language requirement for the degree.