“You just get to cuddle animals all day, right?”
Ecology is a branch of Biology (the study of living things) which deals with the relationships between organisms and their environment.
Plants + animals (inc. humans) + their physical environment = Ecology.
It’s pretty darn important for us human animals – amongst other things critical for our survival, we need to breathe oxygen (produced by plants), drink fresh water (produced by rain), use nutrient-rich soil to grow food (produced by micro organisms) and have shelter (using natural resources), all whilst trying to figure out what we’re doing with this life on spinning Planet Earth. Trips me out when I think about how big it all is – just me??
The point is: ALL LIVING THINGS ON EARTH ARE CONNECTED.
Ecologists study these important relationships and provide vital information to the general public, businesses, politicians etc. about these connections. This then informs decision making processes, anything from housing developments and mining, to funding for further research and conservation priorities, scientific breakthroughs and political decisions. Ecologists can work in many sectors -government and private – and can have many different job roles. For example, over the years I have had jobs including Zookeeper, Rainforest Ecology Research Assistant, Fauna Handler, Eco Tour Guide, Ecological Consultant, Marine Conservation Campaigner, Rewilding Workshop Facilitator…. all either conducting ecological research or educating people about it! Unfortunately, in this political climate as of late, Ecologists and Scientists in general are not valued members of the community and their jobs and funding have been cut left, right and centre. ‘Cause we don’t need science, right?!
Ecologists are the ones trying to remind Economists that we live on a planet with FINITE resources – humans need to work WITH the planet, not against it. We kind of need air and food and stuff.
Releasing a western barred bandicoot (declared extinct on mainland Australia), Arid Recovery SA. Photo credit: Melissa Jensen
So, what do I do as an Ecologist? I am a qualified Wildlife Ecologist who has specialised in Tropical/Subtropical Ecology, Wildlife/Marine Conservation and Marsupials mostly. So far, I’ve had a really varied career (see jobs above!) and now have decided to focus my work life into two areas.
- Threatened species research and conservation – I work for a private Ecological Consultancy on the North Coast (NSW) and specialise in koala and other threatened species surveys, monitoring programs and plans of managements for Councils around NSW/QLD.
- Nature connection and education – I set up my business Wild Search Byron Bay as a means to spread the ecology love and get people back in touch with nature. My hope is that people will “protect what they love” and become nature frothers.
Just a little funny I created ^^^^. My work days in the last 6 months have consisted of scratching around the base of trees for koala poo and trying to identify every tree I come across. Very Glamorous! And when I’m not in the field, I’m in the office… and that’s even more glamorous!
So, there you have it. For all the people who don’t understand what and why I do what I do! I am a professional question-asker with a passion for Planet Earth <3
*A typical convo…….
“So, what do you do?”
“I’m an Ecologist”
“Oh yeah… like you work with people with cancer”
“Um, no. E-COLOGIST, not ON-COLOGIST”
“Ah right, what’s that?”
*Title photo credit: Himawari 8 Satellite of Planet Earth