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Zoologists are biological scientists who specialize in the study of animals and wildlife. Many zoologists further specialize by becoming experts on certain types of animals, such as birds or reptiles. The origins, life cycles, diseases and habitats of wild animals are all studied by zoologists. Although zoologists spend a good portion of their time outside tracking and studying animals, they also spend a great deal of time indoors scientifically processing and organizing the data they collect when working with animals. Because the work of a zoologist can take her to so many different places, she must have a wide variety of tools available for working with both animals and information.
Zoologists work with all types of animals and need a wide variety of traps to catch them for study. Foot snares, culvert traps and small cage traps are used to catch land animals of various sizes. Large culvert traps are used to catch animals such as grizzly bears while snare traps are used to catch smaller prey such as foxes. Nylon nets are used to catch both flying and swimming animals. The mist nets used to catch birds, bats and insects are almost invisible when deployed and come in various sizes. Nets are also used to catch fish.
Sometimes it is necessary for zoologists to obtain samples from both animals and their habitats. Both blood and water samples, for example, can help zoologists better understand the natural habitat of fish and how their environment affects them. Specimen jars of various sizes are used by zoologists to collect water, blood, tissue and other samples. Specimen containers can also be used to store and preserve dead insects and small animals for further study.
In order to study animals in their natural habitats and track movement and migration patterns, zoologists use various tracking devices. Collars, bands and other small tracking devices can be attached to an animal before it is released back into the wild. In the past, simple numeric bands were placed on animals such as birds. These bands allowed individuals to be tracked, but specific information could be gathered only if the same individual was caught again. Zoologists now use tracking devices that emit radio signals or send GPS coordinates that can be used to track individuals.
Like other professionals, zoologists need to be computer literate. Zoologists use computer software to help them analyze, store and share the information they gather while working with animals. Familiarity with spreadsheets, email, word processing and other basic office software is required of zoologists in addition to analytical software. Zoologists also frequently use map creation software when mapping areas where animals spend their time. Presentation software is also used by zoologists when asked to share their knowledge with peers, students and others who may have an interest in their work.
- "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition"; Biological Scientists; United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2009
- O*Net Online; Summary Report for: 19-1023.00 - Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists; 2010
- The Daily Puppy; Tools Used in Zoology; ShamikaM
- Science Buddies: Using Animal Tracking Data from Movebank for Science Projects
Writing professionally since 2008, Michelle Miley specializes in home and garden topics but frequently pens career, style and marketing pieces. Her essays have been used on college entrance exams and she has more than 4,000 publishing credits. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting, having graduated summa cum laude.