Entomologists study insects and related animals, such as ticks, mites, spiders, and centipedes. Most entomologists work in the field of applied entomology, which focuses on insect pests that damage crops and other plants, products in storage, and even buildings. These scientists also study insect pests that endanger the health of people and animals. In addition, they investigate ways to control insect pests. Entomologists use a variety of controls to reduce insect populations. These include cultural controls, such as the draining of swamps where mosquitoes breed; chemical controls, such as the use of insecticides; and biological controls, such as the introduction of animals that naturally prey on insect pests. Entomologists also look for ways to protect insects that are helpful to people, such as silkworms and honey bees.
Some entomologists work for state and federal agriculture experiment stations, public health agencies, and companies that manufacture pesticides. Others teach and conduct research at agricultural universities.
Ethologists are zoologists who study animal instincts to learn what causes instinctive behave or, how it has evolved over time, and how it helps a species survive. Ethologists observe an animal’s normal activities in the wild to learn more about the wide range of instinctive behavior in animals, including courtship, mating and caring for young. In addition, thole-ogists study how animals communicate with each other and how they establish and defend
their territories. For every animal they study, these scientists develop an hectogram a list of all known behavior patterns of a species, including the conditions under which each instinctive act occurs.
Ornithologists specialize in the study of birds. They observe birds in the wild to learn more about their behavior and their numbers as well as their history, physical characteristics, and geographic distribution. Ornithologists often use photography to document how birds breed, nest, feed, navigate during flight, and migrate. They also make recordings of birdsong to learn more about how birds communicate.
Some ornithologists work in museums and zoos where they manage bird collections conduct research, and prepare exhibits and educational publications. Others conduct bird population counts for government agencies and help conservation officials determine which species need special protection.
Veterinarians diagnose treat, and prevent illness in large and small animals. In cities, veterinarians work in animal hospitals, caring for our pets—dogs, cats, and other creatures. Today’s veterinarians use medical equipment and techniques that are similar to those used for humans. In rural areas, most veterinarians focus their efforts on the care and treatment of farm animals, using their special skills and knowledge to prevent the outbreak of disease, which could kill an entire herd. Veterinarians employed by government and public health services work to control the spread of animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. To become a veterinarian, a student must first complete at least two years of preveterinary college work and then study in a college of veterinary medicine for four years.
Veterinary technicians work with veterinarians in caring for animals much as nurses assist doctors in caring for people. These technicians often work in animal hospitals, where they perform a wide range of duties. They record information on patients, collect specimens, and perform laboratory tests. They also prepare patients and equipment for surgery, assist the surgeon, and check on recovering patients. Veterinary technicians are concerned with an animal’s emotional needs as well as physical well-being. They provide comfort and reassurance to anxious animals—and their owners. They also instruct pet owners in the proper care of their animals, such as giving medication, changing bandages, and watching for changes in the animal’s condition. These technicians receive their training in a two-year, college-level veterinary technician program.
Wildlife biologists study the geographical distribution, habitat, ecology, mortality, and economic implications of animals in the wild. Some wildlife biologists treat sick and injured animals at animal rehabilitation centers and, whenever possible, return them to their natural home. Some wildlife biologists conduct research on fish and wildlife populations to determine their environmental and nutritional needs and their relationship with other animals and plants. This research is used to develop wildlife programs, create or restore habitats, and help control disease in wildlife.
Wildlife photographers take pictures of animals in their natural habitat for books, television and videotape programs, and movies. Most of a wildlife photographer’s work is intended to educate the viewer about the subject, so their films and pictures must depict animals realistically, and they must be knowledgeable about the behavior and routines of the animals they photograph. Wildlife photographers often travel to remote places to capture an unusual species on film for a magazine or documentary film. Some wildlife photographers also conduct photography expeditions, or “photo safaris,” in which they take small groups of photo enthusiasts into areas with abundant wildlife, such as Africa.
Zoo biologists use medical technology to breed endangered or threatened animals in the controlled environment of a zoological park. They conduct research in reproductive physiology to help animals who have difficulty retro-dicing in captivity as well as animals who are not breeding successfully in nature. In addition, zoo biologists conduct observational research to find out how animals reproduce under natural conditions, and perform laboratory tests to learn which animals are best suited for breed-mg. They also collect sperm and eggs from living animals for use in a technique called in vitro fertilization. In this technique, an embryo is created by combining a sperm cell and egg cell in a laboratory dish. The embryo is then surgically implanted in the body of a female animal. Many animal species are now in danger of extinction n their natural habitat, so the work of zoo biologists is vitally important.
Zookeepers are responsible for the care and maintenance of animals living in zoos.
Their daily tasks include feeding the animals and cleaning their living quarters. Zookeepers work closely with veterinarians to ensure the wealth and well-being of the animals in their care. Many exotic animals live in zoos, and zookeepers must be keenly aware of their special needs. They watch the animals closely for any change in behavior that may indicate illness or disease. Because there are so many different kinds of animals in zoos and so much to know about them many zookeepers work with a single animal species. In addition to caring for the animals, zookeepers are often asked to share their knowledge of an animal’s habits with visitors and to communicate our obligation to project animal species from extinction.
Zoologists study animals and their behavior. These scientists observe how animals interact with other animals, with their environment, and with people. They also conduct research to learn how animals have evolved over time. Many zoologists work in laboratories, zoos, and museums. Others travel to faraway places to observe animals in their natural environment. These expeditions are called field studies.
Because there are so many animals and so much to learn about them most zoologists specialize in a particular area. Many branches of zoology focus on a specific species. Other specialties include taxonomy the naming and classifying of animals—and paleontology the study of prehistoric animals. Some zoologists specialize in wildlife management or in domestic animal breeding programs. Because animals and humans are similar in many ways, zoological studies help us understand more about human disease. The work of zoologists benefits both animals and humans.